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July 12, 2022

5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Social-Emotional Learning into Your Tutoring

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a teaching method that helps children better understand social and emotional skills and use them within the classroom. Did you know online tutors can also incorporate SEL principles during tutoring sessions? It's true! One-on-one tutoring has certain advantages for teaching social and emotional skills because you can directly and immediately talk about it when it needs addressing.

SEL will benefit students throughout their academic years and in their careers. Here are five simple ways you can incorporate SEL into your sessions:

1. Be in the here and now

If you're going to identify with the struggles your students are facing, you need to be fully engaged in the lesson at hand. You won't be able to help them if you don't notice what they're doing wrong and what they're doing right.

To effectively tutor any subject, you must closely observe your students and pinpoint areas they need extra support in. You can't be daydreaming about something that happened to you the night before, or nodding off due to exhaustion.

You must be alert, focused, and observant so you can be in tune with your students' needs. This fosters trust between you and the student and helps you build a solid rapport with them, which is essential to the SEL method.

2. Check in with students

Checking in with your students first instead of diving right into the lesson shows you're invested in their emotional well being and not just their academic success.

When you ask your students how they're doing, you're helping them be more aware of their emotions. This may be their first opportunity to tell someone they're feeling sad, tired, stressed out, or really happy. The more your students open up to you, the more willing they'll be to engage in your lesson and the entire learning process.

Not sure how to check in with your students? Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • How are you feeling this afternoon?
  • What was the best part of the past week for you?
  • What was the hardest part of the past week for you?
  • You seem quiet. Is there something on your mind?
  • Have you been sleeping well lately?

3. Work on SEL vocabulary

SEL doesn't come naturally to all students. You're going to have to work at it. As an online tutor, it's crucial to realize that students who struggle in school work often struggle with self-confidence, too.

It's quite likely that your students will need extra motivation or an emotional boost to help them along. One way to approach this is to replace negative phrases with positive affirmations. Instead of saying, "No, that's wrong," say, "You're almost there." Instead of saying, "You didn't do that correctly," try saying, "Let's go over that part again together."

Some students may seem like they don't believe in themselves. They think they have failed in a certain subject, and think they're incapable of learning it.

You can help them develop a growth mindset by encouraging them and leading them toward a more optimistic outlook. Here are some more positive affirmations you can use while tutoring:

  • Mistakes are part of learning.
  • I like a good challenge!
  • How can you improve your writing in this paragraph?
  • Learning takes time.
  • I appreciate the effort you put into that problem.

4. Cultivate empathy through sharing life experiences

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another's situation, and to do so in a nonjudgmental manner. Empathy is at the heart of SEL. You not only need to see your student struggling with a certain concept; you also need to find out what it's like for that student while they're grappling to understand this concept.

Is it frustrating to the point of tears, or is it a challenge driving them forward in a good way? This kind of empathy helps you relate to your students.

On the flip side, if your students can relate better to you, they can develop the type of empathy that will help them succeed and thrive in life.

If they see you as a peer, or at least as a real person, your students may be able to concentrate on what you're presenting to them. They may have more personal interest in your words. Most importantly, they may connect with the lesson and be more engaged with the material.

How can you cultivate this type of empathy? Try sharing a life experience.

For example, tell your student that you were just at the library that morning and found a really good book that you look forward to reading later in the day. You can even show them the book using video chat in the Lesson Space.

You could also share an anecdote from your past, such as an embarrassing thing that happened to you in school or a story about how you used to struggle with the same exact concept when you were younger.

Sharing your life experiences or a story of someone else's experiences helps students see things from a different perspective.

5. Create a supportive learning space

A positive, supportive learning environment is one of the best ways you can encourage your students to engage with the lesson. To cultivate the kind of learning space that will allow your students to feel safe and curious, try incorporating the following ideas:

  • Use specific feedback that goes beyond "Good job!"
  • Allow room for students to make mistakes. Remind yourself and your students that mistakes pave the way toward true learning.
  • Reframe negative self-talk into something more positive.
  • Be approachable during every session.
  • Establish good routines during your sessions, so your students know what to expect.
  • Let students make some of the decisions.
  • Use the online tools on Pear Deck Tutor (formerly TutorMe) to your advantage. They can really help you teach in a way that your students understand.

Social-Emotional learning can make you a better online tutor

When you’re in touch with your students, seeking to understand where they’re coming from and how they’re dealing with their academic issues, you can teach in more informed ways.

Some tutors feel intimidated by SEL. After all, they signed up to provide support in math or middle school language arts, not social and emotional skills!

Just the fact that you made it onto the Pear Deck Tutor platform is enough confirmation that you have the ability to be proficient in SEL. Be confident in yourself, and let your self-confidence benefit your students.

Are you interested in applying your SEL knowledge and academic expertise to help students unlock their full potential? Apply now and join the Pear Deck Tutor community of subject matter experts!


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Rudy Hernandez

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