Social and Emotional Learning in Math

Originally posted on on 2/22/2016

Social and emotional learning is vital because it creates opportunities to develop life skills. As teachers we are faced with the task, overwhelming at times, of teaching both hard skills like math as well as those soft skills like empathy, compassion, cooperation and other socials skills that are so important for overall development and well being. How can we as teachers mesh the two?

In order to build empathy in the classroom we must allow students opportunities to work collaboratively with peers and then work with others outside the classroom, to build confidence in themselves while taking pride in their work and at the same time solving some problems and challenges that face them. Building empathy in the classroom will prepare students for successful outcomes once they have parted the doors of our classroom and our school buildings.  

Here are just two ways to ensure integration of empathy in your math block.

Collaborate with peers:

In a collaborative math community where learners are in teams or groups,the teacher can foster communication where problem solving skills can be fine tuned; thus allowing students opportunities to share their voice in a setting that may be more comfortable for them. Giving students the opportunity to interact with others enables them to build relationships that are vital and will allow their voice to be heard while fostering accountability within the group. Groups mixed with a variety of skill levels often provide chances for students to be sensitive to another student’s needs as well. Giving  students the opportunity to both lead and learn, creates a win win situation in that students are learning that making mistakes is all a part of learning.

Break down walls:

Allow students to work with other students outside the walls of your classroom. When teachers explore learning opportunities outside their classroom it gives students the ability to understand different perspectives, cultures and  a greater appreciation for the differences they see with other children from other locations. Allowing students to collaborate on projects with other students in your school or even on other continents while learning math builds empathy and communication skills as questions arise.

  1. Projects – Community Service Projects. A lot of these projects happen around the holidays but can easily be incorporated throughout the year. Projects can easily be integrated with many math skills to stimulate students to learn and provide real life experiences.
  2. Global Math Task Twitter Challenge- @GlobalMathTask allows students to tweet a math task daily while students around the world tweet back their answers. This allows students the occasion to learn cultural differences, while seeing life from different perspectives.

Ingenuity happens and empathy is developed when students are exposed to problem solving with peers in new authentic daily learning experiences. Dealing with the need to convert quantities of measure to other units of another culture is just one way to expand their knowledge. When students come together to solve problems learning becomes exponential in the global community.

Why is creating a classroom in which empathy exists alongside the academics so important? It creates leaders!! Leaders with compassion and respect who will one day be working collaboratively together to create, and solve problems for new possibilities around the world!



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