Select Page
Get A Demo

Best Practices for SEL: Challenging Student Behaviors

We get a lot of questions from educators across the country about how their school or district can address the significant rise in challenging student behaviors using social-emotional learning (SEL) and behavioral intervention practices. Here, we’ve compiled a list of ideas and best practices to consider when looking to create positive climates that support students through holistic, well-rounded SEL programs and other tactics — from their classrooms to their homes.

SEL Ideas for Administrators, Educators, and Staff

  • Facilitate honest and supportive conversations among staff
  • Show appreciation with a treat or small gift
  • Examine and update school counselor curriculum and job descriptions
  • Implement mental health services for all staff
  • Train staff on trauma-informed care
  • Begin faculty meetings with information on SEL topics like mindfulness, empathy, and burnout
  • Include crisis numbers on the back of all student and staff ID cards
  • Incorporate SEL on the district’s multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)
  • Apply for mental health grants to increase funding for district-wide SEL and mental health resources
  • Partner with a local behavioral health organization to provide long-term counseling for students
  • Use school communication channels like bulletin boards and TV monitors to provide helpful SEL resources
  • Form an SEL committee with educators from each grade and ability level represented
  • Develop a suicide awareness program
  • Implement a kindness initiative, rewarding students for kind acts
  • Rotate a school counselor throughout each homeroom to provide an SEL lesson
  • Create a transition program for kids returning from hospitalization or other long-term absences
  • Have a virtual SEL curriculum for students out of school for an extended period of time

SEL Ideas for Classrooms

  • Use storytelling and community circles to build relationships
  • Create “cozy” or “calm down” corners in each classroom
  • Hold a dedicated check-in and reflect circle time
  • Conduct weekly mindfulness lessons
  • Use a mood meter to help kids identify feelings
  • Conduct regular mental health check-ins
  • Add a box with fidget toys to keep the students’ body active and mind open to communication and comprehension
  • Schedule movement breaks for students throughout the day

SEL Ideas for Behavioral Intervention

  • Focus on restorative practices over punitive measures to respond to challenging behavior
  • Create a “redirection” room that focuses on reflection and SEL rather than punishment
  • Develop a mentor program with at-risk students and teacher volunteers

SEL Ideas for Parents/Guardians

  • Host bi-monthly parent workshops based on their needs
  • Conduct parent discussions about various topics such as self-care, co-regulating at home, and school advocacy

Helpful On-Site Resources for SEL

  • School Counselor
  • Behavior Support Technician
  • Parent Involvement Specialist
  • Mental Health Coordinator
  • SEL Coordinator


Contact us today to learn how Navigate360 Social-Emotional Learning can help your school improve student behavior, foster mental health and create a more positive school climate.

Related Articles