Wayfinder Blog

3 Quick SEL Activities for Staff Meetings

14 May

We hear words like burnout, stress, and overwhelm repeatedly used to describe the current feelings of many educators. According to a survey of National Education Association (NEA) members, “More than 55% of [teachers] say they are more likely to leave or retire from education sooner than planned” as a result of the pandemic, while “forty-six percent of teachers say they feel high daily stress.” 

So, how do we keep our valued educators in schools? How do we call back those who have left a profession they once loved? How do we attract new, qualified teachers to the world of education? 

There is not a singular, foolproof answer, but there are a few easy steps we can take to start moving in a meaningful direction toward improved educator well-being. We recommend the following three quick activities that administrators, school leaders, and educators can use to rebuild, reconnect, and support one another. 

Well-Being Check-Ins
1. Start weekly well-being check-ins

Invite faculty to share their answers to any of the following questions in department and staff meetings. If facilitating virtually, consider using a platform like Flip or Padlet

  • What's one thing you're feeling grateful for right now?
  • What's something that's bringing you joy in your life?
  • How is this month/week/term feeling for you, and why?

Feeling creative? Want to boost energy and get teachers talking? Try these! 

  • What was the last thing that made you laugh?
  • What was the worst haircut you ever had?
  • If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Staff Meeting
2. Add music to SEL openers for staff meetings

Tap into the power of music to build connection, destress, and create a joyful school environment using shared music playlists.

Ask staff to share one song that makes them feel happy using streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. Assemble these songs into a playlist to share and play in classrooms and/or staff meetings.

Music is very personal and allows us to connect and learn new things about each other, effectively strengthening relationships. 

High Five Empathy + Community
3. Foster empathy and build community

Help staff reconnect to purpose through a co-created encouragement wall. Provide faculty with sticky notes, and designate a time to write short notes of encouragement, which may be addressed to individuals, the whole staff, or even themselves. Post your encouragement wall in the staff room, and invite everyone to visit it when they need some inspiration. Staff may even peel off supportive notes to keep with them as reminders when needed.

It is also important to consider different measures to help teachers at distinct stages of their careers. 

Empowering individual teachers and reminding them of their own abilities is a powerful first step. Mindfulness has increased in popularity among teachers as a tool to help “cope with classroom challenges and manage their feelings,” which in turn allows them to better “manage their students’ big feelings.” Mindfulness can also help foster greater self-awareness, and “teachers report that SEL (social and emotional learning) contributes to their own feelings of happiness, and helps them be more organized and responsive.” As a result, we see classrooms with a strong sense of community where young people feel they belong. Over time, this leads to higher levels of self-esteem, better stress management, stronger relationships, and greater feelings of happiness and optimism. 

Ultimately, SEL activities for staff can be a powerful starting place for deeper, more effective SEL work for students. In addition to supporting K-12 students to build future-ready and SEL skill sets, Wayfinder can support educators to facilitate meaningful dialogue among colleagues, build trust, foster a sense of belonging in their broader communities, and deepen their understanding of their Why. With the support of Wayfinder’s best practices, educators can teach and utilize relevant SEL strategies to manage and model well-being for students. After all, if we really want to take care of students, we must take care of our teachers, too. 

Looking for more ways to support your students and staff? Reach out to us to learn how SEL and Wayfinder are helping educators and students thrive.