Homeroom (or advisory) should be a space for students to build relationships and work on important social and emotional learning skills , like decision making and empathy. But often it feels like housekeeping (all the forms!), study hall (which it is not), or one long transition between classes. Transform it into the most powerful part of your day with these homeroom ideas that reinforce the five SEL competencies and help students build relationships.
1. Help kids identify their social style.
Have students take this quiz to find out if they are introverted or extroverted (or somewhere in between). Group students according to their type and reflect after various activities. How do they feel after they have given a presentation? After they are allowed to mingle and chat for a few minutes? During homeroom or advisory time, would they rather spend time doing quiet activities or more social ones? Once they know their profile, help students understand how to engage with each other by creating an anchor chart with ideas on how to care for introverts and extroverts.
2. Encourage self-discovery through writing.
Start advisory with a writing routine that helps students focus on what’s going well. Use gratitude journals or give them a writing prompt that encourages them to examine their core values and emotions. For example, ask students to write a quick reflection of something they’ve done this week that captures their best self. Giving kids time for self-reflection is a great way to create positive energy at the start of advisory.
3. Help kids understand their feelings by using the emotion wheel.
Psychologist Robert Plutchik theorizes that there are eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. His wheel of emotions illustrates these emotions and the many ways they relate to one another, including which ones are opposites and which ones can easily turn into another one. Using the emotion wheel with students find clarity.
Self-Management and Emotion Regulation
4. Teach kids how to focus their thoughts.
One of our favorite homeroom ideas is to assign students a PechaKucha to present on anything they would like. A PechaKucha is a short presentation of 20 slides, each presented for 20 seconds each, designed to keep the presenter focused. Each PowerPoint slide has a picture with limited text and no animations or transitions. The format requires them to be focused, organized, and clear in their goals.
5. Help students set goals and monitor progress.
Advisory is a perfect setting to help students learn how to set goals, make a plan, and monitor progress. First, ask each student to identify something specific and meaningful they’d like to accomplish. Next, help them develop short- and long-term plans to meet their goals. Provide time for them to periodically monitor their behavior to see whether they are doing what they planned and whether their plans are working.
6. Explicitly teach self-regulation.
Among the spectrum of social-emotional skills, self-regulation, the ability to manage emotions, focus, and handle frustration, is inarguably one of the most important. And we should teach kids these skills the same way we would teach math or science: with explicit instruction, modeling, and practice. Check out how three schools made a regular practice of helping their students with self-management.
7. Use homeroom time to help the community.
Have your students get together and identify a problem in their community that they would like to help solve. Once they have their cause, brainstorm with your students solutions to help develop their communication and empathy skills. Solving a community problem involves understanding different perspectives, working together to build consensus, and appreciating different ideas—all skills that are important for social awareness.
WE Volunteer Now provides the tools to easily set up the cause-identification process with students, the setup of your service project, and the execution in your community. Plus, 600 schools will receive a $250 grant, made possible by the Allstate Foundation , to use toward their service projects! Get your resources and grant info here.
8. Explore other perspectives.
Set aside time during advisory period to explore current issues that help kids understand the world around them. Ask kids to bring in stories about people whose lives and perspectives are different than their own. These stories can come in the form of YouTube videos, podcasts, magazine or newspaper articles, or books. After the issue is shared, have students break into small groups to discuss similarities and differences between the stories and their own life.
Relationship and Social Skills
9. Practice active listening.
Building relationships requires being able to take the perspective of and empathize with others. One of the best ways to do this is to practice active listening. Active listening involves being attentive, responding with body language, not interrupting, and asking questions. Pair students and have them interview each other about their families, favorite memories, or meaningful moments. Then have students trade places to tell their partner’s story from their perspective.
10. Build rapport with students.
Spend some time each week in one-on-one conversation with each of your students. Create a rotation that allows students to check in with you regularly on their progress in school and overall well-being. Every student will benefit from one-on-one time with a caring adult.
Responsible Decision Making
11. Introduce meeting management and participation skills.
At least once a week have an official advisory meeting. Set a routine that stays consistent so students know what to expect and can bring concerns to the meeting. One potential class meeting format:
- Start with compliments and appreciations
- Revisit and follow up on things you talked about previously
- Share any concerns or feelings while others listen
- Discuss the problem without fixing it
- Ask for problem-solving help
- Discuss future plans, including logistics (field trips, projects, etc.)
Class meetings teach students how to listen to others and work to solve problems as part of a group. They also cultivate community and are a space that students can return to time and again.
12. Give students a decision-making framework.
Brain research confirms that adolescents’ brains work differently when they make decisions. Help your students build good decision-making skills with this simple four-part decision-making process. Download the free posters, brought to you by the Allstate Foundation, here. Practice using these steps with different scenarios to help students internalize the process.
Thanks to our friends at The Allstate Foundation for sponsoring this and other SEL articles. Check out their resources.