Creating Connections: Going Beyond Social-Emotional Learning

Savannah Moffett
Blog on October 05 2022

As educators, social-emotional learning (SEL) is a central topic in the current discussion about best practices for teaching. Many have seen positive outcomes from SEL in academic performance, healthy relationships, mental wellness, and more. The No Limits Method not only makes use of SEL within its training modules, but expands upon it, showing how the social and emotional needs of exceptional students are connected to their physical and cognitive needs. To teach exceptional students effectively, we need resources and strategies to encompass all of these needs.

Beyond social-emotional learning

The No Limits Method incorporates social-emotional learning by creating connections between students and their teachers on a deeper level than ever before. The No Limits Method helps you learn the unique needs of your students and how to address them throughout their educational journey. Through the Method, you will better understand how to balance developing the mind and nurturing the spirit of each student.  

For example, the No Limits Method has taught me that not every instance of “acting out” is necessarily maladaptive or “bad” behavior. Each of our students have their own individual needs, and if at least one of those needs isn’t being met, they may exhibit adverse behaviors due to the inability to regulate their emotional and sensory needs. We discussed this in depth in our previous post, “Having a Bad Day? Reflecting on the Causes of Behaviors.” This understanding has helped me change my mindset about my students. By addressing my students’ needs before starting a lesson, I am able to enhance their engagement in the lesson.

The impact of social-emotional connections

Not only has the No Limits Method helped me understand and connect to my students on a deeper level, it has also helped me guide them in social interaction with their peers. For example, I have one student who is verbal and another who has speech and language differences. At the beginning of the year, they would interact but just with body language, without any conversation. Once I realized there was a friendship forming between the two, I would help guide conversations about common interests, have them work together during activities, and help them interact in a deeper way (rather than just giggling at each other). Now, the two are inseparable and have the closest friendship!

Through the Method, I now have a better understanding of the signs students may give when they feel “off” or “out of it”. By understanding the meaning behind their behaviors, I can better evaluate what the cause of the behavior was and how to help them through it. For instance, I had a student who seemed very frustrated and not himself that day. I sat down with him on the floor (his favorite place to be) and asked him if he was okay. When he responded that he was not okay, I asked if he felt sick, to which he replied that he did. I worked with him using his communication device and had him identify the parts of his body that didn’t feel well. He was able to tell me his head and stomach hurt, that he wanted to go home, and confirm that he wanted me to contact his mother — all by using his adaptive communication device! When I contacted his mom, she was happy to hear that he voiced what was wrong and came to pick him up. If I didn’t have a deeper understanding of my student or a way to communicate with him, his awareness of the world around him and freedom of expression would be so limited! 

By having these types of interactions with your students, you can truly make all the difference in their classroom experience. When they feel heard and seen, and know that they matter, students are more willing to engage in lessons and communicate with their teachers. It can also help foster students’ social development, growing their sense of self and community. To learn more about the strategies and resources that we are offering teachers, schools, and school districts, explore the No Limits Method on OTIS for educators.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more content on the Teq Talk blog or our YouTube channels OTIS for educators and Tequipment.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and support with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology and strategies that spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening!

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