Back to School Coping Skills for Students & SEL Teaching Tools for Educators & Parents during Covid-19 and throughout the Academic Year

Hi Everyone:
Now more than ever, The Human Connection is needed for all of us and especially students, educators and parents whether or not education is virtual, hybrid or in classrooms.

I have created five social-emotional learning teaching tools to help you and your students feel and connect better as you begin a new academic year; These tools are teacher tested; Teachers-in training at FAU’s College of Education expressed gratitude after they experienced them; they reported that they had calmer and more comfortable thoughts, feelings and healthier relationships.

So let me ask you, HOW ARE YOU FEELING? during this Covid-19 pandemic? If you and your youngsters are feeling stressed and a bit anxious, fearful or depressed, please know that this is normal.

I can help you reduce the stress and boost your mood with deep breathing exercises, positive self-talk, mindfulness or visualization techniques and gratitude journaling. I practice them myself throughout the day and believe me, I know it works.

I. Let’s begin with deep breathing, followed by a mindfulness and visualization exercise:

Imagine yourself at the ocean, just before sunrise;
And as you hear the peaceful sounds of the waves, come in and out, breathe in relaxation and peace
And breathe out tension and tight muscles.

Once again, breathe in acceptance And breathe out resistance.

Again, as you hear the gentle sounds of the waves, come in and out, breathe in positivity
And breathe out negativity.

Now imagine yourself feeling the light from the rising of the sun; Feel it shine its soothing light on the top of your head.
Feel it flow down to your eyes, relaxing them with healthy sight and insights.
Feel it soothe your throat, And your heart with feelings of love, empathy, and compassion.
Feel it flow down to your belly, calming and empowering it gently. Feel the light relax your sacrum. And lastly, your tailbone.

Soon, your inner voice asks you: What blessings have I received today, yesterday and this past week? From whom? As the balmy breezes begin to bring you back to the present moment,



 II. Let’s move on and take a selfie or look in the mirror or draw or write about yourself. Who do you see? How do you see yourself?


What strengths do you have? What talents do you have? What do you like to do?  Have you considered your passions? Do you have any dreams that you would like to see manifest or come true? How could you make that happen? Have you discovered new interests or hobbies while sequestered such as cooking or any other creative arts? What can you begin to do right this minute? What are your visions? Is there someone that you could help feel better and in the process feel better and empowered yourself?

I began playing my guitar again, after ten years and eventually sang to my 92 year old aunt. She was so appreciative and I felt good. In fact, it motivated me to continue to practice my guitar more frequently.

In the meantime, ask yourself, What joy can I give myself today? What joy can I give another?

III. What is your Story? Would you like to share & send it to me?

Perhaps you can begin to write about every event you remember along with the feelings you experienced from your childhood.

My story begins with my arrival to America as a six year old immigrant girl, clutching my little doll. While I don’t remember my feelings, I probably felt insecure and my doll must have given me comfort. Thanks to my American born cousin and my teacher, Mrs. Adler, I learned to speak English quickly. I studied hard and was able to help my parents by translating and interpreting for them. Since my uncle sponsored us and offered us a home next door to his factory, the only neighbors and friends I had were in my classroom; Upon returning home from school, I pretended to be a teacher and guess what, eventually I became a Spanish teacher. My Mom insisted that I play the accordion which was popular in Europe though not with me. I would have much more preferred dancing lessons. Still, I realized that music made a big difference in my life.

Storytelling can help us feel more empathy and compassion towards one another and it can truly create a bridge among all people and make us feel as one.

I’d enjoy reading your story😊

IV. What’s bugging you? Do you want to write about it?
Do you focus on solutions rather than on the problem?

Did you know that it really helps to express our feelings by writing or any art form? And that it can boost our mood even further, just like gratitude journaling can? Expressing rather than depressing our feelings nicely and respectfully to another can help us release any internal anger, sadness, and negative emotions in a safe way especially during these times of alienation and isolation.

I have ‘diverse’ puppets that I’ve brought into classrooms to help students feel at ease and express their feelings about different situations or relationship issues. I also created a Bug Box in which students can place their index card with their problem and relevant feelings And another Box with index cards for solutions submitted by a teacher, or parent or their peers.

V. Have you considered volunteering and/or mentoring someone?

It can help you explore and discover your passion and act upon your purpose in life. It can, possibly help you think of ways in which you can make a difference and help you feel better and help make someone else feel better as well.
I recently saw a video of how students were pen-pals with seniors in a nursing home. To see the smiles of seniors who have been very isolated and lonely during this time made teens feel so good about themselves AND some even considered the residents to be grandparents, asking for advice. Seniors felt wanted and needed. So it became a Win-Win for everyone involved.


Educators & Parents, please note that
this template of tools can be viewed on my

America’s Young Heroes YouTube channel:

and detailed activities for each teaching tool are available in my educational resource,
I’m Somebody & So Are You! The Human Connection in Education
for Safer Schools & Environments
©2018 by Vera Ripp Hirschhorn

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