Changing Mindsets one SEL Workshop at a Time

“The fondest memories of school are mostly the ones on the playground and with our friends”. This is something that all the teachers who attended Bhumi’s workshops on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) shared with us. This very statement is pivotal in explaining the importance of SEL, especially in the current situation of a global pandemic. It is important to bring the school to the hearts of the children and to understand them on a deeper personal level. 2020 has been challenging on various levels for individuals from all walks of life but especially children. The schooling system, comprising both the children and teachers, had to rapidly evolve to accommodate a new way of learning. This is where Bhumi’s Head, Heart, and Love (HELO) programme has played a key role in enriching this learning experience. 

SEL focuses on creating an environment of self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness along with the development of relationship skills and enables children to become responsible decision-makers. The HELO team has conducted multiple workshops to help teachers work with the children in a cohesive manner to nurture them better in these skills. These workshops are packed with activities that tap into their childhood and the classroom. The ability to revisit, recognize, accept, and learn from these have been fruitful for all stakeholders.

The pandemic, along with anxiety and uncertainty, has also been a great time of reflection for most of us. We have all learned that the roller-coaster of emotions in us is better managed when we are positive, have a deeper sense of self, adapt, and think critically even during the new normal. The teachers are trained to help children find the roots of their emotions and thus, can help create individuals with a stronger mind frame.

Teachers have been having a hard time communicating with the children, especially now with everything having to happen virtually. This is where speaking up and speaking out about emotions has become an extremely important factor to stay connected with peers and the school system. An example of an activity in the workshop that facilitates navigating emotions is called “RAIN”, Recognizing, Accepting, Investigating, and Non-identifying emotions. So, when a student is experiencing anger, their teacher can first help them identify that this emotion is “anger”, accept it, investigate why they are feeling this way, and help them understand that this is not part of their identity but is only a result of the current scenario.

We want to emphasize developing mindfulness for the children and the teachers as well. Mindfulness is the state of being completely aware of the present and paying attention to it, regardless of whether it is a positive or negative situation. We want to inculcate this into our daily lives and one of the activities we encourage the teachers to include in their classrooms is Check-in/Check-out practice. A Check-In or a Check-Out is done at the beginning and end of a class, respectively, in a small activity or a game to bring the children’s attention to class and raise their energy levels. This also motivates them whilst helping them recognize how they are feeling.  We all have different emotions, likes, and dislikes. This is just a reminder to show acceptance and empathy about how all emotions are acceptable and can be dealt with in a healthy manner.

“It has been fascinating to learn from both teachers and students about how this small practice  can help us be mindful in class and also get to know one another on a more personal and meaningful level.”Sharon SamuelIntern, The Head, Heart & Love (HELO) Program

SEL aims to help students and teachers shift to a new educational system in our country, one which will create emotionally and socially-aware citizens who will go on to engage and build a more meaningful life. These workshops are a stepping stone in the radical change that we can bring to our children, the heart of our program!  

HELO Teacher Development Workshop with Dhanalakshmi and Macaulay schools
Classroom Agreements as set by children of ages 8-10 at one of our urban slum community centres in Chennai
“How do I feel when I help someone”, a visual representation of Jessika’s feelings, a child from our urban community centre.
A response to one of our Check-Ins, “Why I am Special”, by a child from our urban community centers.

The Head, Heart & Love (HELO) Program is an initiative by Bhumi to make social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education by fostering self and social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making in learning spaces*.– Visit to know more.

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