Social-Emotional Learning in online schools presents unique challenges and opportunities for students. SmartBrief Education invited Renee Breuer of Pikes Place Online School, to share how her school leverages SEL to bring out the best in their online student community. This is the second of 3 op-eds on SEL in virtual schools.


Close the distance

As the counselor at Pikes Peak Online School, I work with students to make sure they get their diploma, have a plan for life after high school, and are prepared for where their journey takes them next. But connecting with these learners can be tough. Many have come to us because they were bullied in brick-and-mortar schools; school no longer feels safe to them. I focus my efforts on building trust with them so they feel safe enough to let me guide them through the rest of high school.

Here are three tactics that have been successful.

Get to them know them in real life. Maintaining relationships can be tricky since most communication takes place via phone, email or online sessions. I will often go a step further and meet students in their area, taking them out to breakfast or meeting them at Starbucks. I learn about their interests and extracurricular activities, such as plays or sporting events. I attend as many events as I can. Getting to know them as individuals goes a long way toward building trust.

Model healthy mindsets. Pikes Peak uses the 7 Mindsets social-emotional learning curriculum, to help students build confidence and growth mindsets. Our staff is committed to modelling these mindsets for our students, both…

This is an excerpt. Read the entire article at

Click here to learn more about 7 Mindset’s programming for SEL in virtual schools.