SEL Program Lesson Integration #4

This “lesson integration” is a framework for integrating a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) concept into one of your tutoring sessions. It describes the concept you will be integrating into your lesson and gives you a loose structure to follow. Make sure to read through the entire lesson integration prior to your session so you are familiar with the SEL concept you will be focusing on.

Don’t forget to use the D.N.A. method whenever you want to address your student’s behavior!

Download the below lesson integration as a printable PDF. Please note, if you choose to do the optional activity there may additional PDFs you will need to print and download.

During this session and all future sessions, continue to remind your student(s) that they are safe, and that they are the only ones in control of their emotions.

Use the DNA Method and
focus on the positive when addressing misbehavior.

DESCRIBE behavior calmly and without judgment.

For younger students: “your face looks like this (mirror expression).” For older students: “you pulled your hoodie over your face.”

Wait for eye contact. Take deep breaths together (if you start, hopefully they’ll join).

NOTICE and model empathy.

“You seem ________.”

ACKNOWLEDGE and problem solve.

“You wanted _____.” or “You were hoping _____.” Followed by “your choices are _____ or _____.” Both choices should be ones you can live with.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. This is important for students to learn so they can respond appropriately to others in social situations, better understand others’ emotions and perspectives, build stronger relationships, and be more likely to help people.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session. Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Ask your student(s) if they know what empathy is. Explain what empathy is and why it’s important. Show your student(s) the picture below. Ask them what the difference is between the two pictures.

Ask your student(s): if they were the smaller one crying, would they want the friend showing sympathy or the friend showing empathy? If working with a group of students, facilitate a discussion.

Explain the difference: Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy, which is caring and understanding for the suffering of others.

Beginning SEL Activity

Read this quote with your student(s):

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” – Mohsin Hamid

Ask them what they think the quote means. If working with a group of students who are old enough to understand the quote, facilitate a discussion. For older students, you can discuss this as a metaphor and see if they can put it into their own words.

During Your Session

Do any pre-prepared activity while reinforcing the ideas about empathy you’ve been discussing, if possible. Continue practicing the breathing and self-regulation techniques learned in the first integration when opportunities arise.

Alternatively, write a short story with your student(s) about someone experiencing an extreme emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, etc… Move the story along by asking your student(s) for an example of when they felt that way. Then ask them: if they were feeling the way the character in the story was feeling, what would they do next? Keep reinforcing the fact that they are using empathy for the character they created to write the story.

At The End of Your Session

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing and gratitude in their daily lives. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.