Implementing Social and Emotional Learning with Children With Disabilities

Mar 26 2023

Social and Emotional Learning

Student-Teacher Relationships

The study explored strategies that aim to develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills alongside physical abilities. These would be implemented in adapted physical education (APE) classes designed for children with disabilities. 

SEL Skills are Vital to Students With Disabilities

According to Daley and McCarthy (2020), students with disabilities are among the most vulnerable population with regard to challenges in social and emotional abilities. For example, students who experience anxiety or attention deficit difficulties may need to focus on self-management skills, such as stress management, whereas students with autism spectrum disorder may need to focus on social awareness to learn how to communicate with peers. Working on SEL skills in an APE class will equip students with disabilities with the skills they need to socialize with peers and manage their behaviors.

All Teachers Should be Teaching SEL Skills

The authors employed a qualitative research design using semi-structured interviews with teachers, and document analysis to examine the implementation of SEL strategies in APE classes. The results showed that APE teachers implemented SEL strategies to varying degrees with some teachers using explicit SEL instruction, such as restorative justice circles, while others used more implicit methods, such as cooperative learning and the use of the outdoor adventure model. The authors also found that teacher training and resources were important factors in successful SEL implementation and that a collaborative approach involving APE teachers, classroom teachers, and other school personnel was essential.

Teachers Need Continuous Training in Teaching SEL Skills

The discussion highlights the importance of SEL in APE and the need for ongoing support and training for APE teachers to effectively implement SEL strategies.

Notable Quotes: 

“The feelings check-in allows all circle participants to share their current feelings and emotions.”

“The activity step can be used to address a behavior problem, build relationships, develop social skills, or teach a new skill.”

“In adapted PE, it is necessary to consistently use SEL language and provide opportunities for students to practice the skills through physical activities and then discuss them.”

Personal Takeaway: 

SEL skills should be taught to all children, despite their learning needs. We know that students with disabilities are among the most vulnerable of populations for challenges in social and emotional abilities, therefore explicitly teaching SEL to this population should be a priority in order to allow them to find success in the world at large.—Shekufeh

Olive, C., Gaudreault, K. L., & Lucero, A. (2021). Strategies for Implementing Social-Emotional Learning in Adapted Physical Education. TEACHING Exceptional Children.

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