There are two big things the pandemic has given us that we didn’t know we needed. One is an emphasis on social and emotional learning (SEL), and the other is TED LASSO. Now you’re probably asking yourself: What on earth does an Apple TV show about an American football coach who is recruited to coach soccer in England (despite having zero experience) have to do with SEL?
The answer: EVERYTHING.
But, what is SEL? Good question.
“The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”—CASEL.
As a former classroom teacher and current SEL advocate, I was blown away by how many SEL lessons are depicted in this heartwarming show about soccer/football. At its heart, Ted Lasso is a show about so much more than sportsball. It’s about what we can do, and be, as humans, to make the world a better place. So, here are some of the SEL lessons we find in this rare gem of a show. While these lessons are tailored for educators, I think you’ll find a bit of something in it for everyone. I hope you enjoy them.
Table of Contents
Lesson 1: Learn Student Names
This modern-day Mr. Rogers does one thing that every good teacher knows—he learns and remembers names. Our names are essential to our identity, so pronouncing a student’s name correctly is especially important.
Teacher Tip: Instead of sounding out an unfamiliar name in front of the whole class, ask all the students how they pronounce their names.
Lesson 2: SEL Is for EVERYONE
SEL starts with adults. Every adult a student encounters during the school day has the potential to make a positive impact on that student. It’s truly a team effort. (Pun!) So, don’t miss an opportunity to tell students that you believe in them; Coach Lasso certainly wouldn’t.
Lesson 3: Make Connections
“We can’t be good partners, unless we get to know each other.”—Theodore Lasso
Relationships are at the heart of schooling. We can’t teach who (and what) we don’t know, so getting to know our students on a personal level is essential. Coach Lasso illustrates this by conducting a little personal interview with his new boss.
Teacher Tip: Ask your students to tell you three things about themselves that they want you to know.
Lesson 4: Motivation Is Key
Want to know what motivates your students? Just ask them.
Teacher Tip: Make content relevant. Students are more motivated when they can see connections between the lesson and the real world. “You like baking? Did you know you’re using your math skills? Cool, right? Now, go make your teacher a biscuit/cookie.”
Lesson 5: Consider Perspectives
This one is sooo 2021 (which, by the way, is like 2,000 years too late). Perspective-taking is one of the best ways to develop and increase empathy.
Teacher Tip: Check out this Perspective Detective strategy.
Lesson 6: Don’t Give Up
Our goofy coach is literally a walking, talking example of growth mindset. Our mindset determines our relationship with success and failure personally and professionally and, ultimately, our capacity for happiness. Everything Ted sees, encounters, and experiences is a lesson—even the hard stuff. Sometimes we win, and sometimes we learn.
Lesson 7: Solicit Feedback
There are two kinds of people in this world (and this is true for CEOs, teachers, presidents, etc.): those who solicit feedback and those who don’t. Take one guess who is better at their job?
“If we’re not asking them what they need, we’re not giving them what they need.”—Dena Simmons
Teacher Tip: Provide students with an opportunity to share their questions, comments and concerns anonymously.
Lesson 8: Celebrate the Wins
Success is motivating. How are you creating moments of success for your students? Also, this feels like a good time to point out that movement and music are excellent ways to lift the vibe in your classroom.
Teacher Tip: Ask your students, “If you were a song, what would you be, and why?” #Integratethearts
Lesson 9: Get to Know Your Students
Talk about getting to the heart of the matter! If you want to know who someone is, ask them about what they love.
Teacher Tip: Check out this HeART Project Strategy
Lesson 10: Normalize Emotions
We all have them. Emotions are just information. Emotional regulation is a huge part of SEL. Students need opportunities and support in learning how to identify and manage their emotions. Our students (and people in general) do better when they realize that they do not need to be bulldozed by their emotions. There are lots of ways to manage and regulate our emotions. It just takes practice…or training, depending what side of the pond you are on.
Lesson 11: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
A little self-exploration never hurt anyone. However, it can be uncomfortable to be confronted with aspects of ourselves that we might not like. Ted is not afraid to take a little self-inventory. After all, we can’t change what we are too afraid to see.
Lesson 12: Be Curious, Not Judgmental
In SEL, we prioritize responding over reacting. At the end of the day, students don’t always remember what you say, but they always remember how you make them feel. Every person that Ted Lasso encounters walks away feeling seen, heard, and appreciated.
A good question to ask ourselves as educators is: How do we make our students feel?
Ted Lasso makes you feel like he’s playing an acoustic coffeehouse cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” on your heartstrings. And that, my friends, is a good lesson.
Originally published on The Shubaduh.
Check out Infobase’s SEL Toolkit, with must-read SEL blog articles, SEL webinars, and products that support SEL for all levels!
For more on SEL, check out:
- FREE 6-Part Workshop: SEL & Beyond: A Dynamic Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning and Its Core Competencies
- Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning
- Empowering Administrators Through Social and Emotional Learning
- SEL: Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World
- Not So Fast: Busting Some Popular Myths around Social-Emotional Learning
About the Authors
Trisha DiFazio is an education consultant for Teacher Created Materials (TCM) and a former adjunct professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). Trisha was also a contributing author on TCM’s Language Power: Building Language Proficiency series as well as Creating Social Emotional Learning Environments. She is passionate about empowering teachers and students around social and emotional learning as well as Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching. Ms. DiFazio holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lake Forest College with a double concentration in English and Spanish, a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, an ESL Endorsement from Dominican University, and International TEFL Certification from the International Teaching Center in Madrid, Spain. As a result of studying with instructors from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), Trisha has experienced firsthand how practicing mindfulness contributes to one’s overall health and sense of well-being.
Allison Roeser is an education consultant, author, and leadership coach. She holds a Master of Health Science (MHS) degree from Johns Hopkins University, Professional Coach Certification (PCC) from the International Coaching Federation, and is an Academy Licensed Trainer (ALT) with the Academy for Coaching Excellence. Ms. Roeser has almost two decades of experience working with leaders in education. She is passionate about child welfare and social change. She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a program that advocates for foster care youth in San Francisco. Previously, Allison served as Deputy Director at Westat, a research organization where she directed studies focused on health and education. Allison is also co-founder of SEL&Beyond, an organization dedicated to providing SEL professional development and coaching for educators, parents, and students.
For more strategies and tips, follow the authors on Twitter @SELandBeyond, or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.