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Teaching SEL with TikTok

Teaching SEL with TikTok

by Instructional Supervisor Beth Buehlman

There are so many ways Music and Social Emotional Learning work together.  Music itself is rooted in emotion.  (Imagine an epic movie battle scene or a scary movie without the music!)

One activity my teachers and students have really enjoyed came from TikTok and was posted by @thatweirdchoirteacher (Taryn Timmer).  She posted a video she called “The Friday Blues.” She has the 12 bar Blues playing in the background, and students take turns calling out things that are getting them down.  Not only is it cathartic, but you also learn a lot about your students, what’s happening in their lives, and they are building relatable connections with each other.


Students in a circle learning about themselves and each other
“There are so many ways Music and Social Emotional Learning work together. Music itself is rooted in emotion.”

Another of my favorite beginning of the year activities for elementary students is to read students the book “Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang.  Students resonate with the main character, “Jim Panzee,” and also understand that all of his friends are just trying to cheer him up.  But as it turns out, what Jim really needed was some time and space to feel grumpy.  There is a great opportunity for students to share what makes them grumpy, that sometimes people just need space, and also how we can advocate for ourselves when we need something.  (Jim ends up yelling at his friends and storming off.  With guidance, students recognize that it could have been avoided if Jim told his friends, “I need some space.”) The serendipity that followed, I never would have guessed. Towards the end of class as my students were lining up, I noticed a student was having a hard time in the hallway and reminded my class about what Jim needed, and they were ready to make that adjustment immediately. 

For the rest of the school year, I can refer back to this story whenever a classmate is having a hard time, and students recognize and understand the best way they can help is to give that person space.