Tag Archives: sel

SEL Infused PBL Workshops

I am excited to announce some brand new workshops this summer based off from my upcoming book, The Pulse of PBL: Seamlessly Integrating Social and Emotional Learning! (co-authored with the amazing Matinga Ragatz). Workshops will be offered virtually so any individual in the world can join in from the comfort of their internet hotspot. All workshops are interactive, modeling a Project Based Learning framework and include participants designing a plan to implement in their classroom. My workshops can also be customized for your school and facilitated remotely or in person (I am fully vaccinated).

SEL Infused PBL

July 26-30th 9:00am – 12:30pm EST Registration & Payment

(Recommended for teachers new to PBL. Space is limited to allow for personal coaching)

Meaningful Project Based Learning focuses inquiry on content and cultivates Social and Emotional Learning skills simultaneously. During this workshop educators will create their own PBL project integrated with SEL competencies by experiencing the PBL process themselves. Teachers from all levels and content areas will partake in a PBL environment full of protocols and structures instantly transferable to any classroom. This hands-on, comprehensive workshop will support teachers to confidently transition to SEL infused PBL inspiring students to change their world.

Transformative SEL: The Pulse of PBL

July 23rd 9:30am – 4pm EST Registration & Payment

(1, 2, or 3 day options are available for school workshops. Recommended for teachers with PBL experience. Space is limited to allow for personal coaching.)

With the trauma of the craziness of 2020, educators are paying more attention than ever to Social and Emotional Learning. Many teachers use mindfulness, yoga, and other exercises to help students focus, but these tools focus primarily on self-control and behavior management. The SEL competencies encompass so much more! Discover how to teach, practice, and assess ALL of the CASEL competencies in this hands-on workshop. SEL is the Pulse of PBL: the energy running through the veins of a project that gives life to PBL and develops students into self-reliant learners. Using a Project Based Learning framework, each participant will develop a personalized plan to cultivate all of their students’ SEL skills. 

SEL Experiences and Options for School PD:

All of the SEL workshops address common myths about SEL, best practices of SEL implementation, and how to teach, practice, and assess SEL within a Project Based Learning framework. Although ideally suited for PBL, the SEL strategies can be implemented in any K-12 classroom. Each participant will complete a personalized SEL plan for their students. Multiple day SEL workshops allow groups to add the following optional add-ons and focus areas:

  • Transformative SEL: Transformative SEL means that students don’t just practice CASEL competencies in a sterile environment, but address issues of justice and equity. Projects should be culturally responsive and scaffolded for all learners including special education and English Learners. Design powerful SEL experiences bent toward justice in the community. 
  • Extreme Project Makeover: Bring an old project, stale unit, or a new idea that you want to revamp for maximum impact. Share previous successes and challenges of SEL in your classroom. Integrate the SEL competencies with new protocols to develop a personalized plan to cultivate ALL of your students’ SEL skills. 
  • Focus on 1 Core Competency: CASEL organizes SEL into 5 core areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. Tailor your workshop for a deep dive into specific strategies of one or more of these competencies.
  • Developing Oracy and Public Speaking Skills: Students don’t show up to your class as natural experts in Relationship Skills. They need to be taught SEL skills such as how to communicate effectively with their team and how to effectively share their ideas with the world. Discover specific strategies to improve student dialogue around controversial issues, negotiating group conflicts, and presenting their ideas publicly. 
  • Community Partnerships: PBL and SEL need to be seated in authentic contexts. Take your projects to a higher level with community partnerships to engage in local issues. Explore how partnerships in the community motivate students to practice SEL skills in meaningful problems with local experts.
  • Classroom Culture & Community: Launching into SEL and/or PBL for the first time can seem daunting. Experience proven structures and techniques to successfully establish classroom culture from the start of the year that encourages students to actively engage in tasks, take risks, and come together as a learning community. Individually or as a school team, design a plan for the opening weeks of school.
  • Project and Group Management: Responsible Decision-Making leads to work done efficiently and on-time. Discover specific tools and practices to help facilitate projects in the classroom. Roleplay common scenarios and practice using tools that teach students to problem solve and manage themselves, their teammates, and the project work. 
  • Leadership Through Service Learning: Brainstorm and plan a PBL project around specific needs in the community. Apply Transformative SEL and Community Partnerships to cultivate student leadership by investigating and tackling tough local problems to improve citizen’s lives.
  • Assessing SEL: Educators understand that if learning is important, it needs to be assessed (but not necessarily graded). Design a plan to effectively assess the different competencies throughout a project with an emphasis on goal-setting and personal growth.
  • Extended Work Time with Personalized Coaching: Multiple day workshops allow further time for planning SEL implementation of the strategies experienced in the workshop to teacher’s classrooms. During group work time, personalized feedback and coaching is provided.

Questions? Would you like to chat about customizing for your school? Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele on Twitter.

LGBTQ+ Students Need Allies

Usually on this blog, I share my expertise around PBL and SEL from my personal experience. This post will use some personal stories, but LGBTQ+ is an area of growth for me and I am in no way an expert on the topic. I feel it is important to share my journey and point toward others who are experts because we don’t talk about LGBTQ+ issues enough in education. And these issues are 100% Social and Emotional Learning in the areas of Self and Social Awareness.

This year I have been attending a series of virtual workshops from the Michigan Department of Education supporting LGBTQ+ students in our schools. We had a panel of LGBTQ+ students from around the state share their experiences with us. This past week we had as our guest Owen Bondono, the 2020-21 Michigan Teacher of the Year, who led us through some resources and answered questions. Owen is the first trans teacher of the year in our state. So in “old school” blogging style, here are some reflections on what I am learning.

Harassment of LGBTQ+ Students

I grew up in a conservative, religious, rural community. Most people that I knew opposed LGBTQ+ people for religious reasons. Most LGBTQ+ people were not “out” but everyone knew who they were. We were often judgmental, but mostly we pretended like LGBTQ+ didn’t exist in our community.

Nationally around 13% of students are LGBTQ+. So as Owen said in our workshop, “Unless you have a magical class with less than 10 students, then you have LGBTQ+ students.” Based on current surveys in Michigan (and I sincerely doubt the numbers are much different where you live), LGBTQ+ students are huge targets of bullying, harassment, and assault in schools. Unfortunately this includes teachers as the perpetrators. This is not ok. I don’t care what your personal beliefs are; we cannot tolerate prejudice and hate from students or adults in our schools toward LGBTQ+ students. We have professional and legal obligations to make schools inclusive and safe for all students.

Via GLSEN 2019 National School Climate Survey

A Culture of Safety and Belonging

I was a founding teacher at a comprehensive Project Based Learning school that functioned as a lab school for the county. We bused in kids from 20 districts representing urban, rural, and suburban communities. It did not take long to realize that we had a high percentage of LGBTQ+ students at our school. They were not recruited, but I think we gained a reputation as being an accepting, safe space for all students. We were by no means perfect. We definitely had students who were homophobic and transphobic, but our culture was inclusive and did not tolerate hateful speech. Based on the conservative communities that our LGBTQ+ students lived in, I can surmise that they did not feel as safe at their home districts.

In the fall of 2012, students completed the #MyParty election project where they created their own political parties based on issues that mattered most to them. Since my students came from such diverse areas across the county, we had all kinds of party platforms advocating for and against pretty much any issue imaginable. But one issue that stood out was gay marriage (not legal in our state at that time). No matter if the students were conservative, moderate, or liberal on other issues, they agreed in marriage equality. Students who personally opposed homosexuality for religious reasons still supported LGBTQ+ rights for marriage equality.

For the culmination of the project, we invited in a group of local state representatives. They were almost entirely Republican, because that is the voting demographic of our area. The students played 30 second commercials for their party and gave two minute stump speeches. When it was over the Representatives rushed me and only wanted to know one thing: Are all young people really this supportive of gay rights? They were literally in shock hearing this from the kids in their communities. You better believe that I told my students this story the next day! This is the power of student voice in action, influencing the leaders of our state.


I learned a ton about LGBTQ+ issues from my students. One day that stands out is when Cam, who identified as non-gender, informed me that their preferred pronouns were “they/them.” I had never heard of this before, and my initial reaction was thinking that it was really strange and made no sense because everyone knows those are plural. I did some research and began to learn more about different LGBTQ+ terms. I am thankful for Cam’s bravery to teach me about what mattered to them.

More recently it has become common for people to identify their preferred pronouns in certain situations including email signatures and social media descriptions. To be honest, I have resisted this trend, judging it as performative. But what I have learned the past few weeks, is that it can be powerful for LGBTQ+ students to know that teachers are allies to them. Currently as a teacher in a virtual school that has LGBTQ+ students (some identified and I assume many others who are not), I have struggled with how to show support for them. That’s when I realized that by including my pronouns in my communication, it’s a small signal to LGBTQ+ students that I respect their right to choose their pronouns. So I have made this subtle change, but it is too soon to report any student feedback yet.

Again, Social and Emotional Learning includes students having Self-Awareness of who they are and Social Awareness to accept those around them with different viewpoints. So what can we do as educators to make sure that our schools and classrooms are safe for all students, especially LGBTQ+ ones? Some basic things that everyone can do:

  • Use students’ preferred names, regardless of whether or not it is their birth or legal name.
  • Use students’ preferred pronouns, regardless of whether or not it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Include literature that represents LGBTQ+ characters in your school and classroom libraries.
  • Zero tolerance of homophobic or other discriminatory language or actions toward LGBTQ+ students, including from adults. (this is a legal responsibility)


As I stated above, there are many out there who are more educated than me on this topic and you should learn from them.