I try to remember that one strength of SEL practices is their simplicity and repeatability. A well-placed, clearly framed turn and talk, a just-in-time brain break -- consistently used, these and their kindred moves can sustain a steady music of engagement. - Mike Jones, English Teacher & SEL Lead Teacher, Oakland High School

Frequently, when I lead SEL professional learning I’m asked, “How do I begin integrating SEL into my teaching?” The answer I consistently offer is to start by incorporating the 3 SEL Signature Practices. A few years ago when I was co-facilitating an SEL foundations training with one of my mentors, CASEL Consultant Ann McKay Bryson, she introduced me to these strategies (Welcoming Ritual/Inclusion Activities, Engaging Practices, and Optimistic Closings). These practices can be used to simultaneously develop and sustain community while also promoting academic engagement. The two key components when designing a Welcoming Ritual, incorporating Engaging Pedagogy, or utilizing and Optimistic Closing are individual thinking time and purposeful social interaction. These elements are critical because research has consistently shown that “think time” or “wait time” results in significant benefits to student learning. This includes an increased number of student responses and purposeful social interaction provides structured collaborative learning experiences where several studies have shown result in student achievement gains.

In addition to using these practices in the classroom they can also be used in meeting or adult professional learning. In fact, our previous Superintendent used to model these practices and had the expectation that adults across the system were incorporating these practices into all adult learning spaces. 

This past summer our SEL team created a 3 Signature SEL Practices Playbook that includes several examples of: 

  • WELCOMING ROUTINES & RITUALS (Activities for Inclusion)

  • ENGAGING PEDAGOGY (Academic Integration, Transitions, Brain Breaks)

  • OPTIMISTIC CLOSURE (Reflections and Looking Forward)

Here’s a link to the playbook and a two-pager that described the 3 practices.

Below you'll also find a video that details each of the 3 practices in more depth.