Nurturing Social and Emotional Learning in a Virtual Classroom

social and emotional learning

Social and emotional learning is the foundation of fulfilling life!

As per WHO, our mental health is determined by social-emotional skills and these are critical factors in shaping up our personality.

The human development process is not as simple as it sounds! It involves varied developmental domains and numerous external influences in the process of shaping up an individual’s personality.

Eventually, all these factors impact the quality of life that we lead and determine the level of success that we achieve later in life!

If we talk about a child’s overall developmental process, social and emotional domains are an essential part of his/her holistic development. Because these are the basis of all social interactions and create the ability to become a ‘Self Aware’ and ‘Productive Individual’ within the society.

First and foremost, let’s understand the individual meanings of social and emotional learning commonly known as the SEL in the teaching and learning process:

  • Social Learning is a process in which an individual learns through another individual using social learning skills/abilities. It is like an effective learning mechanism that leads to the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the other.
  • Emotional Learning fosters the abilities that help in managing and regulating one’s emotions. So, it helps with one’s overall emotional maturity and eventually makes an individual more ‘Self-Aware’.

Before moving on to the digital pedagogies to foster SEL, let me take you through the findings of an interesting research.

Owing to the importance of social competencies, the nurturing process of SEL starts in the early childhood stages of the formal education system.

A detailed study took place about 20 years ago using a statistical model, that showcased a deep-rooted connection between social learning/competence at the kindergarten stage and its impact later in adulthood.

This study shows that, with a one-point increase on a rating scale (one to five) showing improved social competencies, a student had better chances of achieving success later in life.

So much so that, 54% of these students were likely to earn a high school diploma and 46% of them were likely to have a full-time job by the age of 25 years.

It is evident that social competencies and success in life are hugely interrelated. Of course the meaning of success can vary from person to person. So, these are the key areas in the education process across digital schools and brick-and-mortar institutions.

In the modern-day digital educational landscape, the curriculum and instructional delivery aim at the student’s skill and holistic development.
So, the opportunities of social and emotional learning are woven within the structures of the best online high schools along with 21st-century skill-building.

Now, let’s move on to some effective digital pedagogies used in the best online high school’s virtual classroom for a student’s SEL:

Digital Gaming

Digital Gaming is a unique tool to nurture SEL in students because it connects the learners with real-life issues and encourages collaboration among students. Therapeutic board games like ‘consequences’ teach students how to deal with anger, stress, depression, etc. Similarly other games like ‘circle of friends’ ‘wisdom: the world of emotions’ are great to foster cooperative and group learning amongst modern learners. For a digital school teacher, these game-based learning opportunities are a fun way of improving the student’s social and emotional learning.

Effective Use of AI

Artificial Intelligence is another useful tool used in one of the best online high school to build emotional and cognitive intelligence in students. Machine learning supported by artificial intelligence is great to teach students the consequences of their actions. So, with the use of AI, teachers make students more self-aware and responsible.

Generally, online teachers make use of AI through its pre-loaded behavior/patterns/designs, etc. They use computer voice, sensing, and text to recognize emotions and tailored responses to deliver and create a perfect environment that nurtures SEL competencies in students.

Apart from this benefit, AI has some more benefits for online teachers. By using machine intelligence, online teachers can map, group, and identify students who lack social and emotional competencies. So, it gets easier for teachers to address these students better with appropriate timely ‘remedial action’.  In these ways, digital literacy can help both students and teachers to identify and address issues related to social and emotional domains easily.  

SEL Activities

Virtual classrooms promote SEL through carefully planned mindful activities. These components of a virtual classroom trigger the sensory organs of a student. And help them to learn in a ‘happy’ virtual classroom. Activities like student journals, interactive videos, thought sharing platforms, etc. can be used to promote self-regulation and coping skills in students.

So by using simple techniques of visualization, puzzles, and engaging sensory practices, a virtual high school teacher can make way for great social and emotional learning. He/she can also make use of screen sharing options, worksheets, and printable materials, to gauge the effectiveness of these applied strategies at the end of the instruction.

Building a Collaborative Classroom

A collaborative virtual classroom is also known to foster self-awareness in students, because it helps them to understand the socially acceptable ways of interacting within a group. As a hub for social learning, these collaborative online classes perfectly showcase varied perspectives of individuals for the same issue.

Additionally, its cooperative structure engages students actively and motivates them to perform through carefully planned group learning opportunities. A heterogeneous mix of classmates in an online classroom helps students to self-reflect and learn through the best peer-tutoring techniques. So, they learn how to work independently within a group and eventually succeed as a team member.

Let us take an example of a collaborative classroom. Supposedly, some students are divided into small groups and are asked to present/summarize an incident collaboratively. In this activity, one of them can summarize the learning of the scenario while the others can provide varied viewpoints or resolutions for the alleged problem-statement. Facilitating activities in a virtual classroom like these have a high success and information retention rate.

The Online Classroom Culture

Technology-based education weaves social and emotional learning within the ambiance of an online classroom. A teacher can make use of SEL terminologies (like positive words and phrases) and foster SEL in a virtual class. These strategies are ideal to let students take charge of their emotional state perfectly.

Online schooling delivered through an accredited online school empowers students to become independent problem solvers and cultivates positive relationships with their peers. So, within the structures of a virtual learning platform, students use their digital literacy to learn values like empathy, team building, cooperation, and kindness.

Other than the online classroom pedagogies, the best online high school also encourages interactions beyond the synchronous class.

Peer interactions are the cornerstone of a virtual high school learning environment because a digital classroom fosters SEL in numerous ways including the asynchronous learning durations. So, even while the teacher is at bay, students in a digital school exchange their knowledge with each other. These interactions can be about the best available internet resources and even their discovered information. These discussions enrich the learning experiences of students and make them socially active with their peers.

Before wrapping up, let’s have a look at some quick tips for teachers and parents to foster an individual’s social and emotional learning in day to day life.

Negative Thought Replacement Strategy-

During group learning or individual interactions, try to replace negative verbiages. Replace words like ‘never succeed’, ‘always challenging’, ‘I can’t do this’ with ‘I will try harder, ‘I can deal with it’, etc.

Simple Exercises or ‘Brain Breaks’-

Use digital literacy for SEL through brain breaks and relaxing exercises. Incorporate refreshing physical activities, breathing exercises, or accelerating and decelerating movement games within the virtual classrooms. Because these help students to calm down and gain better control over their emotions. These breaks are also ideal for students to get charged up for focusing better.  

Foster Kindness and Empathy through Interactions-

You can build on meaningful conversations that trigger the mental faculties of students for real-life issue handling. It is good to share some real-life happenings and the best ways to deal with these problems. This will model ideal behavior and educate them to tackle real-life problems pragmatically even in the adverse circumstances of life.

A virtual classroom is a perfect place to nurture SEL in students, since it is a hub of quality educational solutions and mindful educational pedagogies. The best online high schools believe in the power of social and emotional well-being, especially in the post-pandemic era, as the hardships created by these challenging times have also deepened the empathy crisis in the global village.

Thankfully digital schooling connects students with their peers from across various cultures and ethnic groups. So, group learning and digital pedagogies used in a virtual classroom offer added advantages of excelling in real-life skills beyond ‘just the academics’.

Because only a socially and emotionally intelligent individual can enjoy the blessing of life fully!

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