National Letter Writing Day, recognized December 7, is a great opportunity to reconnect with significant people in our lives. Writing provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what we want to say to another before we communicate. Expression through writing is a way to commit thoughts to paper, making the thought process visible, while the writer is your own audience. Expressive writing is known to have professional and social benefits -- an obvious reason for integrating writing in Social-Emotional Learning is the fact that writing is the foundation of academic communication and professionalism.
Writing letters promotes mindfulness by requiring thought which encourages you to slow down and focus on what you are trying to communicate. Writing generates self-reflection which allows your mind to focus on the content of the letter-- provides time to think about your job, relationships, hobbies, or whatever the topic is of your writing. Some experience writing to be cathartic; expressive writing is considered therapeutic because the core of writing is self-expression. Reasons to practice expressive writing may be clarity of feelings towards a situation, release of negative feelings and thoughts, to share gratitude and positive feelings towards a person or situation, opportunity to say exactly what you need to say, and letting someone know how much they mean to you. The best part about expressive writing is that you decide if you want to share your writing with others, these letters are only for you unless decided otherwise.
Writing in the Classroom
Social emotional writing is impactful, freeing, and creates opportunities for defining moments in a student's life. There are multiple tips that should be considered when creating a lesson plan or curriculum that practices social emotional writing. First, a great way to set a foundation for social emotional writing is asking students to analyze and write about the emotions of characters rather than their own emotions. Second, build positive relationships with the students to create a safe space that encourages students to express emotions with those they trust. Use prompts that allow you to focus on skills and behaviors that are specific to the needs of the students allowing students to guide the social emotional writing prompts and topics. It is highly recommended to use expressive writing as a warm-up, rather than graded assignment which allows students to practice low-stakes writing. Always respect student privacy. Cultivate a culture of respect by establishing a zero tolerance for bullying and disrespect; school should be a place where every student feels valued and heard.
Below are some resources for using SEL in writing:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.