Unique Social-Emotional Learning Activities for Teachers and Adult Teams

Teachers need school cultures saturated with social-emotional learning. When we create safe and vulnerable communities, trust expands. As a result, teamwork thrives.

This post includes high-value, school-tested, team-building ideas. They offer opportunities to dive deep with vulnerability and courage. At your next team meeting, plan a creative and unique opportunity to cultivate a school culture of community and thriving.

“Our best gift is a practice of courage: a gentle compassion towards all that is unfinished.” ~Karine Veldhoen

Learn Forward – An Invitation to the Most Important Journeys of a Child

World of Experience – A Mapping Exercise

“Self-awareness is the process of getting to know yourself from the inside out and the outside in.” ~Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Using a projected image of the “World of Experience” map on a wall, use this exercise to get up and move. During a coffee break, encourage participants to explore the large-scale map and get close to mine for its detail. Post the following guided reflection questions and turn this experience into a way-finding exercise.

  • Where are you on this map of human experience? Why?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How will you get there?

Share insights in triad groupings to engage at a deeper level.

Louise van Swaaij and Jean Klare

Read Aloud for Adults – The Well of Being

“Circumstances are wrong. They seem to ferry our well-being up and down, round and round. If our circumstances are wrong how can we possibly ascend to well-being?” Jean-Pierre Weill

What an inquiry?! The enchanting illustrations in this children’s book for adults invite us to drink at the well of ‘being.’ The evocative imagery could also form a visual presentation to a large group.

Ideas for stimulating thoughtful engagement:

  • Use Ron Ritchhart’s See, Think, Wonder thinking routine to deeply explore some of the artwork.
  • Engage your resident art teacher to create your own well of being water-colours.
  • Individually write 5-min essays on the quote and share most poignant insights in small groups.

“Well-being is generated not from the outside but from the inside.” Jean-Pierre Weill

Now Discover Your Strengths

Start with strengths! Yes, this work is a bit of an investment (the cost of the book for each member of your team). It also requires some pre-work. For example, each team member should complete the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. But, it’s worth the investment and easy to implement.

Once you’re ready, here are some guiding discussion questions to help your team discover each other’s strengths:

  • What strength surprised you most? Why?
  • Which of your strengths do you gravitate to most and least on your list? Why?
  • Has one of your strengths ever been named as one of weaknesses? Tell the story?
  • What strength do you most admire in the person sitting next to you? Why?

Möbius Strip Exercise

Parker Palmer describes life on the möbius strip is the mature practice of connecting the inner and outer world. The degree to which we are integrated is a measure of health and wellness. Indeed, identity formation is a key to social-emotional learning.

Perhaps, watch the Parker Palmer video together.

Following the video, give each team member a sentence strip. Invite each person to write personal values on one side of their strip, the inside. Encourage participants to choose whatever speaks to them in the moment. Then, wrap and attach your sentence strip to create the möbius strip.

Finally, consider sharing experiences of integrated wholeness in small groups.

Take a Breath Together!

“We plant seeds of potential while deeply relaxed.  For many, being deeply relaxed is the goal!” Jeff Thomlinson

Take a Breath for School Communities

In this season, unlock potential with a breath practice. To breathe and foster relaxation may be the greatest gift for a team’s well-being. Begin in just 10min to build awareness by participating in the “Relax” recording together as a team in the 5-days of Brave.

Additionally, Learn Forward is pleased to be partnering with Jeff and Sonya Thomlinson of Take a Breath for School Communities to unleash thriving in school communities! Their design helps school leaders support each member of the Table of Learning: educator, parent, learner. With an prodigious list of relaxation recordings, anyone can find what they need.

In conclusion, a vibrant team requires social-emotional learning. Attention to well-being will support teacher retention, nurture a spirit of collaboration, and ultimately benefit your learners. These practical exercises will cultivate safety and connection.

If any exercise here serves you, please help me serve more EdLeaders by liking and sharing this post with your network.

For thriving,

Karine Veldhoen

P.S. Be your school’s hero this year! Animate your team by reclaiming your school’s unique moral purpose in your community. We’ve mapped out this incredible school-wide experience for you! Craft a soul story using our “Manifesto Playbook & Video Course.”