SEL Conversation Starters
References to SEL – or social emotional learning – are everywhere, it seems. As we emerge from the pandemic, there seems to be a general agreement that we – and our young people – need it. But just what is SEL? And what can it look like in your classroom or office?
Most states and education systems are adopting the CASEL framework to define SEL. CASEL is the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and the name highlights something that is getting a bit obscured in our current landscape: you can’t have academic progress without social and emotional learning. If students don’t feel socially integrated and emotionally safe, then they are not primed for learning reading and math.
The five CASEL competencies include: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. While you may not have time and space to practice all five competencies in every class, every day, it is likely that in the course of a typical week or month, your students will have the opportunity to practice all five. These SEL conversation starters can be a great way to include those competencies may not be as directly tied to your core content.
SEL can be included in your curriculum both formally and informally. Inspired by this list intended for adult audiences, here are some SEL conversation starters for your next community circle, journal prompt, or casual check-in.
1. If there was a movie made of your life, who would you want to direct it, and who would play you?
2. If you were a color, what would you be?
3. What was your favorite TV show or movie when you were younger?
4. What words do you hope people use when they are describing you?
5. What’s something you do that your 5-year-old self would probably find funny?
6. What are your pet peeves?
7. What food are you craving right now?
8. What song always puts you in a good mood?
9. If aliens came to earth, what do you think they would find most interesting about you? About me? About humans? Why?
10. If you were invisible for two hours, what are some things you would do?
11. Who is the most famous person you have ever met or seen?
12. If money was no object, where would you live?
13. If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
14. What’s the best piece of advice your grandparent/older relative gave you?
15. What habit(s) do you have that you think annoy other people?
16. What celebrity or public figure would you want to be stuck on a desert island with?
Responsible Decision Making
17. If you could take only five movies to a desert island, what would they be?
18. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be and why?
19. If you had one day to spend as you please without any consequences, what would you do?
20. What is your biggest goal post-pandemic?
Have you tried these or other SEL conversation starters with your students? Message me on Instagram and let me know how it’s going.