Black female teacher with short haircut and green cardigan laughs with a diverse group of elementary students.

Fostering Collaborative & Inclusive Learning Spaces: Incorporate SEL Practices Into Activities

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.


These activities are designed for everyone in mind. Students and adults alike are a part of the lifelong learning process for developing and using strong SEL skills that foster a collaborative environment in which the fullness of each person’s identity is acknowledged and elevated.

Welcoming / Inclusion Activities

Open each class period, meeting, or professional learning experience with an activity that builds community and connects to the work ahead.

Examples of Welcoming Activities, Routines, and Rituals:

  • Smile warmly and greet each person by their preferred name
  • Whole-group greeting activities
  • Morning circles
  • Interactive “do-nows,” such as peer-to-peer homework help

Find specific activity directions and additional Welcoming/Inclusion Activities on Pages 10-18 of the provided PDF resource

Engaging Strategies, Brain Breaks, and Transitions

Embed Engaging Strategies to anchor thinking and learning, throughout the experience. Engaging strategies offers many opportunities that vary in complexity to practice SEL skills. Build in a balance of interactive and reflective experiences to meet the needs of all participants.

Examples of Engaging Strategies:

  • Think, Ink, Pair, Share (silent time to reflect; time to write; partner discussions; close with a group share out)
  • Clock Partners (prearrange partners for quickly pairing up for reflection and discussion)
  • Private think-time (facilitator wait-time)
  • Mindful Minute Brain Break (a calming activity, promoting focus and readiness to learn)

Find specific activity directions and additional Engaging Strategies, Brain Breaks, & Transitions Activities on Pages 19-35 of the provided PDF resource

Optimistic Closures

Not necessarily a “cheery ending,” but rather highlights an individual and shared understanding of the importance of the work, and can provide a sense of accomplishment and support forward-thinking. The closing activity may be reflective of the learning, help identify next steps, or make connections to one’s own work.

Examples of Optimistic Closure:

  • Something I learned today…
  • I am curious about…
  • I am looking forward to tomorrow because…
  • Something I’ll do as a result of this meeting is…
  • Something I still question…
  • Something that still concerns me…

Find specific activity directions and additional Optimistic Closures Activities on Pages 36-46 of the provided PDF resource

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