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Social and Emotional Learning and Fostering the Formative Five: Making Connections

Making Connections

Those who work in schools are being asked to do more and more to support the emotional well-being and mental health needs of their students.                          Lynn Lyons.


6 Important skill we should teach in school : Lynn Lyons

According to Lynn Lyons, these are the six skills we should teach:

1.  Connection

  • Adult connection with each and every student is ESSENTIAL and will make a BIG difference
  • Think about the students that made the most progress and the connections they had now think about he students that made the least progress adn the connections they had. Connections matter!

2. Flexibility

  • Able to tolerate uncertainty
    • Grit or persistence is the ability to move through uncertainty
  • Able to handle unexpected things
  • The opposite of being rigid
    • Student are often rigid so that they can avoid a challenge
  • In order to be flexible we need to manage our emotions first
  • In order to problem solve we need to be flexible first
  • Teachers cn reinforce all different instances of being flexible

3. Emotional Management

  • Teachers can NORMALIZE all emotions
    • We all have feelings, thoughts, and sensations and sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't
    • You are allowed to have your feelings, what matters is what you do NEXT
  • Adult (and students) need to learn to tolerate distress
  • Calming down is not the primary goal!
    • When adults say "you need tdo calm down', students hear you are not supposed to have strong feelings.
    • We can teach breathing and relaxation, but they should not be our primary focus
    • We want students to find ways to appropriately manage their emotions
  • Coping Skills : talking back to worry, know how and when to take a break, mindfulness, ect.
  • Distraction is NOT a great long term too!

4. Elimination is NOT the goal !

  • Feelings are going to show up !  they are NORMAL!
  • Teacher's can have the understanding that the goal is for students to expect feelings and then learn to manage them!
  • The goal of emotional management is to cope with emotions not get rid of them.

5.  Problem Solving

  • Teachers can teach, promote, and reinforce the problem solving mode.
    • Identify the problem
    • Brainstorm solutions
    • Select a solution
    • Implement the solution
    • Reflect on the effectiveness of the solution
  • Even an unwanted feeling can be viewed as a problem to be solved!

6.  Temporary vs. Permanent

  • Fixed vs Growth Mindset
  • This is who I am vs. This is PART of who I am
  • I will always be this way vs. I can work on changing the PART of me that is causing me to have a problem
  • Teaches ca remind students that walking talking , riding a bike, math facts, reading, etc. are all skills that they did not kow how to do before but with practice CAN learn. 


  • Teacher/Adult connection with students is ESSENTIAL and will make a BIG difference.
    • Strong connections increase student motivation engagement, and achievement
    • Think about the students that made the most progress an YOUR connection with them
    • Teachers can be "Silent Mentors" 
  • Students to student connection
    • Loneliness can have a very concerning impact
      • We want students to know ~ YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
    • Social Comparison vs social connection
      • Comparing is NOT the same as connecting
      • Negative Connection ~ my situation is worse that yours
      • Not all relationships feel comfortable all the time
      • The mor time people spend on screens the less time they are truly connecting with others
  • Look for opportunities to connect OUTSIDE of yourself 
    • What are your GIFTS that can be shared with OTHERS?
  • Be PRESENT and in the MOMENT because when students feel CONNECTED they do BETTER!
    • In order to be able to do this, self-care is very important
    • YOU are not alone either !!  You are so much mor than just a teacher.



  • Articles
    • The Power of Being Seen - Strategies
    • Improving Student Relationships with Teachers - long but good, lots of video examples
    • Developing Strong Teacher Student Relationships - simple overview 
  • Books
    • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and Tara Calahan King
    • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
    • A Book of Bridges : Here to there and me to you by Cheryl Keely and Celia Krampien
  • Videos
    • https?// Can Mr. Rogers Save Us All? Creating More Family          Connection & Joy 
    • The Power of Relationship  (4 min)

Additional Resources


Great Additional Resources 

  • African Violet Queen Story - Dr. Erikson - why bother - simple act of connection
  • I wish my teacher knew __________  because _____________
  • Responsive Classroom
  • CASEL - Relationship Skills
  • Second Step - Units on Empathy
    •                                           8f8d50c17a28763758e5f699a8b45df6/k-5-scope-sequence-ss-short.pdf.