Social-emotional learning is the first step in a successful classroom community.  If a student is secure in their social-emotional learning, that’s when the real learning takes place.

How can you accomplish all of this and so much more?  With SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning!  

My name’s Elizabeth Peterson.  I’m a classroom teacher and an ARTs integration specialist who focuses on helping caring, creative teachers just like you to integrate the ARTs with Social-Emotional Learning through SEAL.

I’m so happy that you are here.  Let’s get started!







The Importance of SEL in the Classroom… Onsite or Remote!


No matter who you are, what you teach or how old your students are, they all need to be taught elements of SEL or social-emotional learning! 

Why should you teach SEL?  Because there are certain things ALL students (and actually ALL humans) need.  Our students want to feel like they are part of a class community, even if they are shy.  They want to feel valued and heard.


Students need opportunities to express their emotions in safe, caring and creative ways.  Your classroom needs to feel like they are in a safe, supportive environment.


You see, when you tend to students’ social-emotional learning first, you are much more able to teach your content.


SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning


How can you accomplish all of this and so much more?  With SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning!  I can’t wait to tell you so much more.

SEAL takes the best of what ARTs integration has to offer and integrates it with the growing need to address the social-emotional needs of our students in proactive and intentional ways.

More than ever before, our students need us to have new and innovative ways that can help them through any amount of challenges and successes both inside and outside of the classroom!

There is no better time than now to consider all the ways you can implement SEAL, social-emotional artistic learning. 

So, let’s get into 3 big reasons why you should teach SEL and a few ways the arts are the best way to do this!



Reason #1 – Build Positive Connections with Peers and Adults


The first big reason to teach SEL is so that you can establish and build positive connections in your classroom.  This is important to do peer to peer and between students and adults.

Relationships are seriously the number one way you will be able to reach your students and help them learn.  If a student doesn’t have a good relationship with you, it’s going to greatly affect their success in your class.  This only gets more and more true in middle school and high school. 

Also, it’s not just about the relationship you build with your students.  It’s also about how you cultivate community inside your classroom and within your small groups.

The best way to create these connections?  That’s through real experiences.

Having students fill out a survey is ok.  Going around the room to say something interesting about yourself or nice about another person is good,too.  But, providing actual experiences in the classroom is so much more effective. 

And the best way to do that?  Through the ARTs!


Let me show you what I mean.

For example, a SEAL Teacher favorite is the community that is built through Friendly Friday.  For this, students secretly create cards or notes for another peer in the classroom.  Then, we ceremoniously exchange the cards.  Seems pretty simple, right?

And yet, it is such a powerful activity.  The more consistently you do it, the better the relationships in your classroom. 

And card exchanges are only the beginning!  There are so many great collaborative and friendly activities you can do with your students.  No matter if you are young or old, community building can be a huge success.

You can read more about Friendly Fridays in the description below or you can click here.  


Music Builds Connections and Creates Experiences!


Another one of my favorite ways to build connections among peers is by listening to music. 

Ever since I was student teaching back in 1999, I’ve been integrating music listening experiences into my students’ writing AND into developing their self and social awareness.  And what’s so great, is that listening to music together can be a huge community booster – when done with some SEAL guidance. 

Students can discuss the music in ways that help them to connect with one another and learn about each other in a safe way.


Building relationships isn’t something that can just be done face-to-face.  In my remote classroom, we have built some great relationships!  I go into that in more detail in my video titled ‘5 Ways to Build Relationships During Remote Learning’.  If you are teaching remotely, you may want to check that one out.


Reason #2 – Strong Social-Emotional Skills Lead to More Learning

When students come to class with anxiety, anger, annoyance or emotional distress they simply are not ready to learn. 

The degrees of emotional distress could be as common as a fight with a friend and as complicated as, well, you know how bad it can get, right?  Some of our students come to us with loads of issues and trauma.  Asking them to push that to the side or leave it at the door so they can learn is just not effective.

Part of our job is giving students the tools to manage their emotions and a safe environment to do that.

I discuss this inside my free workshop The 3 Secrets to Integrating the ARTs with SEL and we learn so many tools for this inside my course SEAL Teacher Training.  From ways to check-in with students to creative and artistic ways to help students to self-manage you will find it all inside of my workshop and course! 

My favorite SEAL strategy for self-management is soundtracking.   This is where we play music passively to create an atmosphere of calm and focus.  If you want to learn more about Soundtracking, be sure to watch this video where I show you exactly how to introduce this SEAL strategy to your students.  

I have even adapted this awesome strategy to be used in your remote classroom! Click here to learn how to integrate soundtracking into your remote classroom!


Teach students about emotions and how they can manage them in a healthy way!

Helping your students to understand how their brain works can really benefit them.  It doesn’t matter how young or old they are.  Finding age appropriate ways to explain this to them is really important.   This is so that they understand what they are feeling is normal and that there are ways they help themselves.

When students feel threatened or in an emotional overload over things that have happened at home or in school, their amygdala goes into fight, flight or freeze mode.  And in turn, learning ceases. 

It’s not made up stuff – it’s real science. 

And it can really affect our students (and us too!)

In SEAL we look at ways to be proactive in our approach to social-emotional development.  So that students are embedded in a safe, learning environment, and they practice skills that can help them manage those moments of emotional overload.

When students can better manage their emotions in your classroom, they are way better equipped to learn.  So putting in the time to teach these skills is well worth it!

So, what do you think so far?  Do you teach social-emotional skills in your classroom or is it something you are thinking about doing?  Let me know in the comments!


Reason #3 — It’s Important for YOU!

Alright, now let’s take a good look at the third big reason why you need to teach SEL – This reason is because it’s important for YOU!

Imagine a classroom full of students who are ready to learn.
Imagine yourself ready and excited to teach.
Imagine being ready to take on the day, every day and to face each day as an opportunity to make a difference in your students’ lives.

Heck – that’s why most of us got into teaching in the first place, right?

Well, teaching is no joke and it’s been getting harder and harder. 

Even putting the pandemic aside, we have been seeing the need for more social-emotional learning in our schools and for our kids growing every year.

And because of all this, people are finally waking up to the fact that we need to take care of our teachers.  What you do day after day is tough work: exhausting, emotionally draining hard work!

But here’s something we know for certain:

When you can establish good social-emotional routines in your classroom, your students are better equipped to learn and YOU are better equipped to teach.


SEAL is Unlike Any Other Professional Development Experience!

This 3rd point is truly what sets SEAL apart from other methods and programs for social-emotional learning.

We focus on the SEAL Teacher.

Here’s what one superstar SEAL Teacher has to say about SEAL’s focus on the teacher:

“The very first time I did an engaging activity (especially hands on) that was about ME I thought, now THIS is different! THIS is wonderful, therapeutic and healing. THIS is learning about myself so I can put my best self forward.”

If you watch my free workshop or decide to take SEAL Teacher Training, you will see that we look at ways – real ways – effective ways – to develop YOUR social-emotional skills.  We look at ways to improve your mindset and ways that you think about your role in the classroom and creative ways for taking care of your teacher self.

If you want to learn more about what makes SEAL so great AND get some great ideas of how it can be used in your teaching, go sign up for my free workshop.

It will get you started with some amazing activities and ideas to start focusing on how you implement social-emotional learning in your teaching.

In next week’s blog post and video I’ll talk more about why I teach SEL through SEAL.  (Can’t wait to share!)

If you want to learn more about SEAL, be sure to sign up for the FREE Workshop!

That’s it from me.  Have a fantastic rest of your day and I hope to see you inside the workshop!


Free SEAL WorkshopYou know the arts are a great way to address students’ social-emotional needs, but HOW?  Let me show you in this FREE workshop on The 3 Secrets to Integrating the Arts with SEL – even Online!

Go to to join our mailing list and learn how to become a SEAL teacher! 


Here is the link for more information about Friendly Fridays!

One of the best things you can do for yourself is surround yourself with other caring, creative educators!  That’s why I want you to join our amazing FB community: Inspiring Teachers!  Share ideas, ask questions and get support from colleagues around the globe who believe in the power of arts in education! 

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