Posted on 01/20/2020 at 10:38 AM by Blog Experts

Elizabeth Peterson, a 3rd and 4th grade general education teacher in Massachusetts, was one of the presenters at the Art of Education’s Summer 2019 Conference. Peterson is also an arts integration specialist. More recently her focus has been on SEAL--Social emotional artistic learning. Peterson explained that SEAL was a way to integrate the fine arts with the social emotional competencies that were published by CASEL. The competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Peterson integrates these competencies into fine arts lessons so students are also learning artistic expression and artistic appreciation.

During a podcast with Vicki Davis, Peterson explained different ways to integrate SEAL into the classroom. She called the first wave the SEAL teacher mindset, which focused on how fine arts teachers would bring these ideas into the classroom to help teachers take back their classroom, take care of themselves, and take care of their students. Another wave Peterson called a stream, or embedding SEAL into everything throughout each day, consistently. One example was playing music while students were working to help them with self-management skills. A second example was to establish Friendly Fridays. One activity Peterson proposed was a card exchange, during which students would create a card for another student. The final wave was digging deeper into SEAL integrations and an in-depth study of the competencies in explicit instruction lesson plans.

At the Art of Education Summer Conference, Peterson shared three steps to using SEAL to transform any fine arts lesson into a SEAL lesson. She said that many teachers might believe the fine arts room is the wrong place to teach social-emotional learning, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Peterson shared the BME Rule - all things in life have a beginning, middle, and end, including how we structure class time and plan a lesson. 

Step B - Teach these explicitly

  • Self-awareness = self reflection

  • Self-management = working quietly

  • Social-awareness = working with a group or partner

  • Relationship skills = sharing their work and reflections

  • Responsible decision making = promoting creative process by helping students determine who they will be working with or who they will stay away from in order to do best work

Step M - Students are working their way through the creative process “Walk and Talk”

  • Talk to students about progress

  • Talk to students about process

  • Talk to students about SEAL learning

    • How does working with ____ make you feel?

    • Allow them to comment on their self-awareness

    • Ask how well they are working together

    • Ask if they are seeking help when needed

  • Explicitly teach these and how these relate to artistic expression and social emotional learning

Step E - It’s all about Reflection!

Weave social emotional learning throughout the entire artistic processEncourage students to use SEAL words about their learning throughout the art lesson.

Peterson’s SEAL Word list for lesson planning




Relationship Skills

Responsible Decision-Making

  • Confidence

  • Optimism

  • Growth mindset


  • Accurate self-perception

  • Recognizing strengths

  • Self-efficacy

  • Impulse control

  • Stress management

  • Motivation

  • Self-discipline

  • Self-motivation

  • Goal-setting (personal & academic)

  • Organizational skills

  • Perspective-taking

  • Empathy


  • Social/Ethical norms

  • Respect for others

  • Family, school, and community resource supports>

  • Communication

  • Active listening

  • Cooperation

  • Social engagement

  • Conflict resolution

  • Relationship-

  • building

  • Seeking help

  • Teamwork 

  • Identifying problems

  • Analyzing situations

  • Constructive choices

  • Solving problems

  • Being safe

  • Evaluating consequences

  • Reflecting

  • Ethical responsibility

  • Consideration of others


For more information, you can contact Elizabeth Peterson at She has a self-paced online learning course about SEAL integration here: You can also find further lesson ideas from Peterson at

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