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Check-In with Youth: Social and Emotional Learning

*This post is sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are my own.

What about our youth? Are we checking in with our pre-teens and young adults? How are they feeling about all the recent events happening in our communities? How are they feeling about the end of the school year during this COVID-19 craziness? From educational delivery changes to the unrest in the protesting streets, what are we doing to allow our youth to be heard and talk more about their emotions and experiences?

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk… I mean really talk to some students I was tutoring in mathematics. They were feeling defeated about learning math virtually. They really missed being able to take a hands-on approach to math that was not possible through a computer screen. I was doing my best to give them strategies to approach my class. I tried to build their self-awareness of what they knew mathematically and how to approach what they did not know. I tried to reinforce our growth mindset strategies and build their math esteem. I tried many different curriculum approaches, but I could tell more was going on than just conceptual understanding issues.

It was when I stopped lecturing and started really listening that my students started opening up about their emotions and stress. At first, I was slightly intimated, and I thought about stopping them from sharing to move them onto a counselor. However, I realized these students wanted me to understand and hear what they were feeling. I am close to these students and our relationship was something we all valued. Our entire discussion made me recognize something very important. We, educators and parents, really need to collectively work together to learn more about and nurture the social and emotional learning of our youth.

There has been a lot of research about social and emotional learning (SEL) in education. I think this conversation is so relevant and important, especially in the current climate. SEL teaches students to self-manage by recognizing their feelings, regulating emotions, and managing stress. It teaches adults to learn how to really listen and try to meet all the needs of our students. And it also promotes the values of being kind to others and resisting impulsive behavior. When students are taught SEL skills, their academic performance improves, and they have a stronger connection to those around them. In times of uncertainty, these skills are more important than ever.

I strongly believe that we as educators, parents, and guardians need to work together to support our student’s social emotional competence. We need to be more comfortable with having emotional discussions with our youth. But we need to do research and obtain guidance in this area. One resource is The Allstate Foundation’s free ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide currently posted on the We Are Teachers website. The document offers tips and guidance for building these important SEL skills at home. It is an organized clear read and easily downloadable from the follow link:

We all need to find ways to help our students. We need to listen to their needs and be aware of strategies to help them get through this current climate. I know we are all dealing with things personally, but we cannot forget that our youth are right there with us dealing as well.

This post was written as part of The Allstate Foundation and We Are Teachers SEL Parent Guide campaign and sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine. The Allstate Foundation empowers young people – and those that guide and teach them – with social and emotional skills to build character and transform lives. Learn more at

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