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  • Alicia Peletz

Conditions & Resources to Support an SEL Culture

Updated: Apr 30

When it comes to promoting and implementing SEL with students, creating and maintaining a supportive classroom environment that integrates SEL skill instruction throughout instruction is essential.


To help build a social and emotional learning culture in your classroom, you first have to strengthen your own adult SEL. CASEL has a great Personal SEL Reflection to help get you started and bring self-awareness. To be clear, we’re not saying that only perfect people can build a social and emotional learning culture! Instead, we’d like to emphasize that it can be challenging (or even detrimental) to begin this journey with your students if you have not taken the time to develop your own self-awareness.


Once you have done some personal reflection, Consider the ways that your classroom already supports an SEL culture, and where you have some room to grow. Use the graphic below to guide your thoughts.

Conditions of an SEL Culture Chart. Click the image to download a PDF.

Once you have identified your growth areas, it is time to turn to your classroom. Consider how you can foster a supportive environment through community, psychological & emotional safety, and a learner-centered teaching approach. Reflect on how intentionally inclusive you are to invite students into the learning process. From there, integrate SEL into your daily instruction.


Since SEL is much more than a set of strategies, having a starting point can help. Our free SEL Connected ebook offers 15 strategies and showcases how to use them intentionally in an academic setting. Below, we provide some additional strategies based on the amount of time you have. Want to learn more about how to see how these strategies connect to SEL? Take our self-paced course!



Less than 5 Minutes

5-10 Minutes

  • Claim, Support, Question. A routine for reasoning with evidence. (Project Zero, 2019)

  • Color, symbol, image. A routine for distilling the essence of ideas non-verbally (Project Zero, 2015)

  • Common Ground/ Uncommon Commonalities An activity to help learners find commonalities. (The Origins Program)

  • Crumpled Reminder. Students write down a recent mistake and their feelings about it, and then crumple up the paper. Then they reflect on how their mistakes help them to learn. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Four Corners for Perspective-taking. An activity that helps learners build the skills of perspective-taking.

  • Inner Voice Calendar Allows students to reflect on their learning by engaging in active dialogue with their peers and/or teachers adapted from Cris Tovani’s 2004 book Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? (reDesign)


10-20 Minutes

  • A Moment for Me: A Self-Compassion Break for Teens. A quick self-compassion practice that can be applied throughout the day whenever difficult emotions arise. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Best/Worst Outcomes. An activity to help learners identify best and worst outcomes in a situation. (Oregon Educators Network)

  • Campfire. Campfire is a shared storytelling experience in which learners create an artifact for the stories. (Gamestorming, 2011)

  • Carousel. This game will help gain and share insight from all points of view, since everyone will have had the chance to contribute. (Gamestorming, 2013)

  • Cows, Ducks, and Chickens A Team Building Experience that also can be used to deconstruct grouping tendencies. (School Reform Initiative, 2017)

  • Check In Circle. The Check In Circle allows folks to transition from life outside to being present at a meeting. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Diversity Rounds. To become more aware of the Venn diagram of our identities, to work with others to define our various identities, and to think more deeply about what diversity means. (School Reform Initiative, 2017)

  • Fears and Hopes Protocol. Use this to establish a norm of ownership by the group of every individual's expectations and concerns: to get these into the open, and to begin addressing them together. (School Reform Initiative, 2017)

25+ Minutes

  • Circle Format and Guidelines. Use this suggested circle format when engaging in discussions and dialogue with students. (Applied Coaching for Projects, 2021)

  • Creating Metaphors. Use metaphors as a reflection tool and build community among participants through sharing professional metaphors of best work. (School Reform Initiative, 2017)

  • Dialogue Journals. Teachers and students write to each other in journals on a regular basis, helping to build positive teacher-student relationships and to grow students’ self-awareness and social awareness. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Gratitude Nature Walk. Students take a mindful walk in nature, noting what they are grateful for, and create a collaborative art piece of their experience. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Purpose Compass. Students generate purposeful project ideas by personally identifying (1) a need in the world that moves them, (2) their skills and abilities, and (3) something they find joy and value in. (Greater Good in Education)

  • Town Hall Circle Adapted from Facing History and Ourselves, students will participate in a structured discussion. The purpose of the town hall circle is to provide a space for students to share different perspectives. The activity can work with any content area with differing opinions or perspectives. (reDesign)

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