Increasing Kindergarten Student Engagement through the Use of Social Emotional Learning and Improved Teacher Practice

Michelle Tween, Fordham University


The COVID-19 pandemic caused a radical change in the way teachers deliver instruction. Educators and parents expressed deep concerns for kindergarten students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) in remote environments. The purpose of this mixed methods Improvement Science study was to apply and learn from SEL practices that improve students’ connections to teachers and each other. The primary drivers for the study were 1) strengthening teacher practice in building and sustaining connections with students through a collaborative critical inquiry group and 2) embedding social emotional learning into daily professional and classroom activities through Yale’s RULER (Recognize, Understand, Label, Express, Regulate) approach, focusing on the Charter and the Mood Meter. Use of RULER’s Charter and Mood Meter increased overall connection and engagement, especially for students learning remotely. In the pre-survey, 14.0% of parents with remote-learning students “never” felt confident about their children’s education and well-being; after the study, 50.0% parents reported “always” feeling confident. Teachers shared daily reflections in their critical inquiry group, encouraging all voices to be heard; they reported that they were better able to learn from each other’s experiences and use those new learnings to build on their own practice. In the pre-survey, teachers felt “not at all prepared” (50.0%) to create connections and engage with their remote learners; after the study, teachers reported feeling “very prepared” (76.0%). These results align closely with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Framework.

Subject Area

Early childhood education

Recommended Citation

Tween, Michelle, "Increasing Kindergarten Student Engagement through the Use of Social Emotional Learning and Improved Teacher Practice" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30313182.