SEL Practices

Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, speaks about “every behavioral intervention being a biological intervention.” A student’s repeated experiences in school can be a powerful influence for the rewiring of the neural pathways necessary for habits to be built and sustained. Having routines and rituals in our classrooms and school communities is beneficial for every child, and absolutely essential for some.

Three main categories of carefully chosen, effectively facilitated and thoughtfully debriefed teaching practices work together to build a solid foundation of safety, consistency and joy in classrooms across the school day:


ENGAGING PEDAGOGY • Sense Making, Transitions, Brain Breaks

OPTIMISTIC CLOSURE • Reflections and Looking Forward



When used consistently, these signature SEL practices create conditions for growth and learning across all five SEL competencies while using culturally responsive teaching strategies to help create collaborative classrooms.

By providing repetitive and engaging opportunities, they help students improve the skills and habits of:

● Self-awareness and social awareness through noticing and naming feelings, and seeing how they are connected to what is happening within and around us.
● Self-management and relationships by interacting with people and with content in ways that intentionally strengthen our skillset of being aware of and in control of our thoughts, emotions, actions and interactions.
● Focusing and persevering by balancing novelty with routines and rituals; we are internally soothed by sameness, while paradoxically, our brains need freshness too!


Kathleen Chronister

Director of Social Emotional Learning 
(801) 402-5170
SEL students

“With compassion, we can help remove students’ triggers by providing smoother transitions and safe, predictable classrooms.”

- The Heart of Teaching and Learning: Compassion, Resilience and Academic Success

SEL graphic

Practices for the CLASSROOM