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SEL Activities: Stepping Stones to Enhancing Students’ Interactions

by Teach For Lebanon - Jun 12,2023

From the 22nd until the 30th of April 2023, Cohort 13 TFL Fellow Rozan Dakroub visited Germany to meet Fellow Luisa Schulze from Teach First Deutschland and cooperate on the "SEL Beyond Borders" social-emotional learning program, which they designed to reduce emotional distress among refugee kids. 

Luisa teaches a welcome class for children who have recently arrived in Germany to learn the language, some of whom are refugees. Rozan teaches English in Lebanon, where she has numerous refugee students.

During her one-week visit, also called “project-week”, Rozan facilitated the implementation of the initiative with Luisa and her students, and in the following week, Luisa traveled to Lebanon to do the same with Rozan’s students. 

The students, coming from emergency contexts, have witnessed unprecedented events whether in their homes, schools, or communities. However, Rozan and Luisa want their students to become active citizens and be able to recognize their role as beacons of change in society. 

SEL benefits are invaluable in a school setting and include positive social behavior (less aggression and noncompliance) and reduced emotional distress (depression and anxiety) among the students. To begin with, Luisa had struggled with students calling each other degrading names. 

In one of the SEL activities implemented, students were asked to name things they often do that bug other people. It was rewarding to see not only how the students admitted calling each other names, but also how they recognized the implications of their behavior. As the session progressed, students from both sides approached each other and some even apologized to one another. The main objective behind this activity was to help the children identify stress and distress triggers and cultivate a sense of patience among them. 

Further, Rozan has previously found it difficult to engage her students in collaborative work. Since her students are numerous, dividing them into smaller groups, has led some groups to become divided against themselves eradicating teamwork. Through her implementation of SEL, Rozan focused on identifying positive self-statements, cultivating patience, and developing mindfulness in relationships. 

When Luisa visited Rozan’s classroom, both Fellows implemented SEL activities tailored to self-management, self-awareness, relationship skills, and social awareness. Students worked cooperatively in mini-groups and it was fulfilling to observe the students collaborating to achieve a common goal, not only within the same group but also between opposing groups. 

Rozan’s and Luisa’s students exchanged letters and touching messages which they sent through the Fellows.

The skills that emerge from social and emotional learning are stepping stones to enhancing our interactions with other people and our potential to accomplish wonderful things. 

We are proud of Rozan and Luisa’s SEL implementation. Heartfelt gratitude to Teach For All for providing the Fellows with the insights and knowledge necessary for their collaboration. 

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