Supporting students’ mental health will be a core focus for the 2021/22 school year.
Many of our podcast lessons can be used to address more than one of the SEL core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, responsible decision making and social awareness, as well as addressing issues like equity.
We’ve tried to make it easy for you as an educator to explore specific sample ideas below as starting places to spark discussion with your students.
*Stories with an asterisk are great for elementary students
We owe students an education that does not water down or evade topics like the unfairness and inequality in our society, but faces them head on in ways that empower all students to develop SEL competencies.
Here are 5 ways to address SEL competencies:
1. Address self-awareness by inviting students to reflect on their own identities
Building self-awareness skills means:
- Integrating personal and social identities
- Identifying personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
- Examining prejudices and biases
Educators can use these topics to encourage students to reflect on how their identities impact them and the world around them. Here are some Listenwise podcast examples that educators might select to center their students’ experiences:
- *Basketball and Bullies in “The Great Wall of Lucy Wu” – What is something you wish others knew about you or your family that is unique or interesting? Have you ever hid your uniqueness in order to fit in? Why? How did that feel?
- Reconsidering the “Hispanic” Label – How do you self-identify? List as many of your identities as you can (e.g., gender, religion, ethnicity, birth order, etc.), pick the two or three that are most important to you, and explain why.
- Debate: Do You Think Everyone has a Bias? – Discuss how unconscious attitudes or stereotypes can lead us to draw conclusions about each other that are sometimes opposite of what we consciously think or believe.
- Identity Across Generations – In what way were the mother’s and daughter’s experiences of gender and sexuality different?
- Jhumpa Lahiri’s American Identity – What does it mean to feel American? Do you feel American? Why or why not?
- Running While Black – Have you ever been judged based on the way you look? What were the circumstances, and how did it make you feel?
2. Explore self-management skills by learning about emotions
Building self-management skills means:
- Regulating one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations
- Effective stress management
- Self-discipline and self-motivation
Here is a sampling of Listenwise podcasts that educators can choose to explore emotions with students:
- *Plants Can Communicate – What is pain? Do plants feel pain, according to the audio story? Why? What are senses? What are feelings?
- *“Guts” and Stress Relief – The book “Guts” shows that it can be hard to hold your problems inside. According to the audio, what is something that can make you feel better?
- *Weird News: Relaxing with Bees – What routines help you to relax when you are feeling stressed?
- *Things That Will Not Change – When Bea feels strong emotions, what are some of the strategies she uses to feel better? Explain using details from the story.
- What Is Love? – What is love to you? How would you complete the sentence, “Love is…”?
- Student Juggles Classes, Work and Softball Team – What advice would you give Rocky when she feels disappointed? What are examples from your life when you have faced challenges and how have you overcome them?
- Michelle Obama on Becoming – Have you ever gotten “swept up in other people’s wants” for you? How do you figure out what’s right for you, even if it’s different from what others want for you?
3. Foster social awareness using our current event news podcasts
Social awareness is the abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. Fostering social awareness means:
- Taking others’ perspectives
- Recognizing strengths in others
- Demonstrating empathy and compassion
- Showing concern for the feelings of others
- Identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones
Students can explore Listenwise podcasts that discuss social issues that are important to them:
- *Weird News: Big Tip for No Service – What does this community’s show of support for this barista say about new social norms regarding wearing masks in times of coronavirus?
- *“Escape Goat” – According to the story, why do some kids lie? Is it ever ok to lie? What do you think the following sentence from the story means: “[I]f you can’t trust your adults to tell you the truth, everything falls apart”?
- Gender and Diversity in Comics – Do you believe that Americans want to see more diversity in their comics, movies, and television? Why or why not?
- Diversity in Children’s Literature – Why is it important to read books with diverse characters? What impact does reading about different people have on our thinking?
- Pronouns for All – How might using singular “they” affect our thoughts or actions? Explain.
- “Baldo” Comic Strip Features Latino Voices – Why do you think it was important to the comic author, Cantu, to avoid stereotypes? Why do you think he wanted to have characters that “weren’t perfect” but were “good people”?
4. Enhance relationship skills through discussion and debate
Relationship skills include:
- Communicating effectively
- Developing positive and supportive relationships
- Demonstrating cultural competency by navigating settings with diverse individuals and groups
- Standing up for the rights of others
Here are some sample Listenwise podcast that educators might select to center their students’ experiences:
- *Weird News: Teens Grocery Shop for Elderly – How did one teenager’s appreciation for his mother grow as a result of volunteering?
- Teaching Millennial Police Officers to Communicate – Do you think you and your friends would have to practice having conversations with people you don’t know? Why or why not?
- Debate: What is the Best Way to Increase Diversity on TV? – In your opinion, what are the reasons that past Bachelors and Bachelorettes have all been white?
- Adopted by a White Mom – What is the superpower the girl in the story has because of her status as a member of an interracial family?
5. Develop responsible decision-making skills through sample scenarios
Responsible decision making means:
- Being able to identify problems
- Analyzing, reflecting on, and evaluating situations and making choices based on these evaluations
- Developing a larger sense of ethics and social norms
Each of the podcast lessons below identifies a community issue, and students can discuss how they would decide to handle it.
- *Weird News: The Ketchup Thief – Have you ever done something you regretted, then repented and tried to fix it? What happened?
- *Weird News: Teaching Litterbugs a Lesson – Do you think these consequences will make litterbugs think twice about littering?
- Washington DC NFL Team Changing Its Name – How can sports team names, mascots, images, and fan gestures cause harm?
- Biden Administration Protects LGBTQ Rights – What role do you think laws can play in ensuring that people are treated fairly?
- Debate: Racial Bias at the Oscars – How might this situation be different if there were more people of color working within the Hollywood media industry?
- Debate: Should High Testosterone Disqualify Female Athletes? – What changed the former athlete’s mind about the fairness of regulating testosterone levels in female athletes?
For more instructional ideas, check out our SEL podcast collection.