The Most Valuable Thing You Can Give to Your Students

Guest Blogger Hayley Murray

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As a teacher we all want to make a difference in the lives of those we teach. We would love to turn up and be the Miss Honey’s of the teaching world, right? Or maybe that was just me…

Just to fill you in if you’re not familiar with her, Miss Honey is from one of my all time favourite movies, “Matilda”. She was caring and trustworthy, but most of all her students knew that they were safe and loved in her care. Miss Honey knew the little things that built trust with her students; their strengths, what their interests were, and they absolutely adored her – she adored them too.


“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” – Rita Pearson


If you haven’t watched this Ted Talk by Rita, then do yourself a favour!


Keep reading, we have an awesome freebie at the end of this post!

I am brave, smart and strong freebie
Get this resource for free at the end

You see, when our students know us and we know them, we develop strong, trusting and positive relationships that help us build a strong culture.


Our students cannot learn if they don’t feel safe, valued, and connected at school. In order to provide this safety, we need to explicitly teach our children the benefits of knowing and understanding themselves and how to effectively regulate emotions. This will enable them to then engage and feel a sense of belonging to their learning environment.


“The research is clear: emotions determine whether academic content will be processed deeply and remembered.”- Marc Brakett

So what exactly is Social and Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is becoming more of a priority in our Australian schools and version 9 of the curriculum has a stronger focus on this… yay!

There are four areas within the Australian Curriculum:


SELF-AWARENESS is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.


SELF-MANAGEMENT is the management of or by oneself; the taking of responsibility for one’s own behaviour and well-being.


SOCIAL AWARENESS is the ability to consider the perspectives of other individuals, groups, or communities, and apply that understanding to interactions with them.


SOCIAL MANAGEMENT is the ability to communicate, work and make decisions effectively. It is the ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts effectively.


Social and emotional learning is essentially developing skills to build healthy relationships with ourselves and others. So, if you’re going to start anywhere with your students, it’s here because it is what matters most.



Social and emotional learning is essentially developing skills to build healthy relationships with ourselves and others. So, if you’re going to begin anywhere with your students, it’s here because it is what matters most.


Now… we know how busy teachers can be, so here are 5 simple ways to get started in your classroom:

1. Gratitude circle

Spend 5 minutes at the end of the day going around the circle and have each child share one thing they are grateful for, include yourself.

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Another way you can teach your students about Gratitude, is to create a class gratitude tree that you add to each day.test alt text

Click to view this resource

2. Breathing techniques

These could be implemented and used as “brain breaks” teaching self-regulation. Find my free collection online at


3. Mindfulness

After lunch have children engage in guided mindfulness. Zen Den by Cosmic Kids is a brilliant resource.
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4. Read rich literature

Whatever you have a focus on in your space, find books to match. Perhaps you are trying to build a culture of kindness and all the golden things, that’s where my book, She Believed She Could Change the World, could come in!


5. Reflection craft

Ask students to reflect and share that makes them an important, special world changer! This is a great lesson about self love and self awareness and we are sharing it for FREE at the end of this post!

We hope this article has given you some food for thought about investing some time for SEL in your classroom. We hope you enjoy the FREE resource we have created in collaboration with Halley Murray in celebration of her book She Believed She Could Change the World!

I am a world changer printable
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What to read next:

Wellbeing activities to support Kids

An SEL resource EVERY teacher needs

Ways to leave school on time




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