Part II: How Can Teachers Encourage Students to be More Emotionally Expressive?
Processing the emotions we experience towards people and situations in our life can make a significant difference in the quality of life we lead. Social-emotional learning can help students understand the emotions they feel and then respond to them in a healthy way. Programs like SEL Adventures provide teachers a structure and the tools they need to help their students learn this critical life skill.
Creating an Open Culture
It is entirely in the hands of teachers to determine the culture they want to propagate in their classroom. They should create an environment where their students can openly voice the emotions they are feeling and have a peaceful conversation about it. Instead of asking them to ‘not cry like a girl’ or ‘behave like a lady’, teachers should learn to address different situations involving different students. When students do not have to resort to shouting or violence just to voice their opinions, it uplifts the climate of the whole school.
Ignoring emotions and directly jumping into advising can be a rookie mistake. Teachers see their students every day and they know when a student is behaving differently. Instead of directly going into a bit of life advice, the teacher should first acknowledge that the child is undergoing emotional stress. It is essential first to let the child speak, ask them questions to understand the authenticity of their claims, and then empathize with them. If necessary, the teacher can then provide the student with some advice to get out of the situation. But, most of the times, students are just looking for an ear to listen to them.
Reinforcing with Rewards
Opening up to a teacher is not easy for a student. So, if a student is showing emotions, then the teacher should encourage this behavior. A pat on the back, few words of praise, or anything else works. It should be enough to communicate to the student that sharing an emotion was brave. This will encourage this behavior among other students too, and emoting won’t be a taboo.
Add it to the Curriculum
Teachers are busy. So, it is understandable that between preparing for classes, taking classes, scoring tests, and reviewing assignments, they do not always find time to talk freely with their students. So, they should work towards making social-emotional learning a part of the formal curriculum. SEL will help them get the dedicated time they need with their students, provide them with effective tools to deal with students’ emotions, and make sure that students appreciate the importance of emoting.
Make Students Emotionally Expressive
Learning to deal with their emotions at such a formative age can be life-changing for students, and teachers are placed well to be the agents of this change. Teachers are one of the biggest influencers in a child’s life. They can multiply that influence with structured SEL programs like SEL Adventures. The program gives them a direction, the content, and the activities they can use to help their students become more emotionally expressive.