Are you implementing SEL into your classroom?  If you are, awesome!  If you’re not – you really need to get started!  It’s just SO important!  Either way, I’m excited to share 3 common mistakes I see teachers making when implementing social-emotional learning in their classroom. 

These mistakes while implementing SEL in the classroom will keep you stuck and could even slow you down from making some great progress with your students.  So, let’s make sure you’re avoiding these at all costs!


My name’s Elizabeth Peterson and I love talking about social-emotional learning, specifically SEAL.  SEAL stands for Social-Emotional Artistic Learning and it’s a branch of arts integration that couples the amazing power of the Arts with the growing need for students’ social-emotional development.


So many teachers are looking into how they can implement social-emotional learning and SEAL into their classrooms.   Let’s take a closer look at some of those common mistakes that can happen during implementation. 


Mistake #1:


Stay away from one-off lessons without a holistic plan for implementing SEL into your teaching.

Using a lesson that focuses in on social-emotional learning might not seem like a mistake at first, but it actually is.  Let me show you why.

Let’s say you find a lesson that is really engaging and meaningful.  In fact, I have many free SEAL lessons available to you on that you can choose from!  You complete the lesson, your students love it, and you will feel amazing having completed a successful SEAL lesson.

But here’s the thing, you can’t just do one or two lessons like this and call it done.


Creating a Habit and Establishing Positive Culture


You see, there is a way to establish any SEL into your teaching that will create the most lasting results for you and your students. 

For example, when you dig into what SEAL is really all about by taking one of our SEAL courses, you will get all the step-by-step guidance you’ll need to effectively establish a social-emotional routine into your classroom.  You will also be able to integrate the Arts into your students’ social-emotional learning every day.


That’s the key – making your social-emotional teaching something that happens naturally every day.


During SEAL training, you’ll go through all three waves or phases of the framework and be able to actually transform what you do in the classroom – even when you’re teaching ONLINE!

This holistic approach to integrating the Arts with SEL through SEAL involves looking at all three waves in depth.

  • Wave 1 = SEAL Teacher Mindset
  • Wave 2 = Discovering SEAL Teacher methods of how to make SEAL part of your time in the classroom
  • Wave 3 = Learn how to integrate and how to implement numerous tools and strategies with the most success


We’re actually going to take a closer look at this framework in our next video, so be sure to subscribe and hit that bell so that you’re notified when it comes out.  Keep scrolling to find my subscribe button below. 😉 


Mistake #2:


Many teachers think they need to follow a set sequence of SEL lessons.

I made this mistake for years!  I followed a program that had a strict sequence of lessons to follow week after week.  While the concepts were good, even great, the delivery was not. 


I sat at the front of the room with my 4th graders sitting close by and read off a card.  I read the words I was supposed to, asked the questions I was required to, and listened for the answers that were expected.


Again, the content was great, but the delivery wasn’t.  

There were a handful of kids who would contribute answers while the other just sat and let things happen.  I would put in the effort to try and get more participation, but it was just such a struggle.

Our SEL time became something I just wanted to get through so I could check off the box.  When we got to the end of the curriculum, I was excited to do other, more engaging, things with that time.


SEAL is not your average SEL cookie-cutter program!


This is a big part of why I created SEAL.  It is an engaging, hands-on way to learn about and develop social-emotional skills.

When you learn how to teach SEAL, you won’t be tied down to yet another program. There is no set sequence to follow, cards to read or videos to watch. 


Instead, you learn how to weave in the strategies, activities, and lessons that will come alive for you and your students. You learn how to truly reach your students through creative, artistic experiences that actually help to develop your students’ social-emotional skills.


However, if you are still required to teach using another SEL program, the great thing about SEAL is, just like with any wonderful arts integration, it can integrate with what you are already using. 

I promise you, SEAL is about TRANSFORMING your teaching, not adding to it!


Mistake #3


Teachers don’t fully understand their part in their students’ social-emotional learning.


Here’s the truth: You are the most important part of your classroom! You are with your students day in and day out, delivering content and creating the safe, inviting environment for your students to learn. Never underestimate the role you have in your students’ social-emotional well-being.


In fact this is what I talk about in this video below.  Click on the graphic to watch last week’s video on YOUR Role in SEL! 


The Role Teachers Play in SEL


When you learn to teach SEAL, we go over exactly how to make sure you NEVER make this mistake. In fact, in the first wave or phase of our SEAL courses, we focus on YOU.   We focus on your role as a SEAL teacher and how you can become empowered with this new knowledge all while inspiring your students with the SEAL experiences you will lead them through.


A Little Less Talk… A Lot More Action!


So, let’s turn these mistakes into action steps, shall we?

  • Mistake #1 = Instead of using one or two good lessons, think about the holistic plan you or your school has for teaching your students how to develop their social-emotional skills.
  • Mistake #2 = Instead of feeling like the only way you’ll be effective is by following a set sequence of SEL lessons, consider how you can engage your students in more hands-on, creative experiences that will be so much more meaningful for them.
  • Mistake #3 = Understand the important role you play in your students’ social-emotional development.


When you look at the social-emotional work you are doing in your classroom and school, how does it match up?


What is your WHY for Teaching?


You know, one of the main reasons I got into teaching in the first place was to really make a difference in my students’ lives.  I really wanted to help them learn the curriculum, show kindness to other people, work well with one another, and show perseverance as they worked. 

How about you? 

But the thing was, when I followed the prescribed SEL curriculum, everything felt a little robotic and my students’ behaviors didn’t really improve.  I found myself making these mistakes.

It wasn’t until I started experimenting with the Arts in my SEL lessons that I realized I was focusing too much on the program when I really should have been focusing on the skills and experiences I could give my students through the Arts!

Once I started giving my students hands-on ARTISTIC experiences, they started opening up, they started sharing and connecting with each other.  Their overall desire to learn actually improved!  Within days my students were talking and acting differently.

All those boring lessons were replaced with real, hands-on experiences and I felt connected with my students better than ever before.  

I want the same for you and your students!




If you are interested in learning more about SEAL and how it can help you avoid these mistakes, be sure to register for my free workshop: The 3 Secrets to Integration the ARTs with SEL.  It will take you through proven strategies to use art as a creative way to build relationships and tap into your students’ full potential. 

In my FREE workshop we will look at: 

  • Creative and engaging activities that will help you get a holistic approach to teaching social-emotional learning without taking precious time away from your lessons
  • How to create a safe and supportive learning environment where your students can open up, even if you’re teaching online!
  • The important role YOU play in all this – even if you’re not an artist.
  • Plus – You’ll get a certificate for 1 PD hour!


I’ll put the link to the free workshop in the description below.

Let’s make sure you avoid these mistakes and I hope to see you inside the workshop!

Have a fantastic rest of your day!









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!

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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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