Seamless: Social Emotional Learning & Dreamline

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You’ve read here before about Shannon Kline, the Dreamline teacher who, in 2018, won a national Sanford Education Award for her work with Dreamline and Social Emotional Learning. In this week’s blog, Shannon Kline explains clearly and simply how the Dreamline student experience aligns with the Social Emotional Learning competencies so many educators are striving to develop in their students. Thank you, Shannon!

by Shannon Kline
Anson Jones Elementary, Dallas, TX

Shannon Kline

Dreamline and SEL are directly related concepts that can be intertwined for an overreaching learning experience. SEL is based on five competencies in which areas of learning are based. These competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making (, 2018). Dreamline focuses on what students value and what their dreams are. Making a solid connection between the two is seamless as educators help students develop their banners. While the connection does not have to be direct, it is modeled, and SEL can be seen through the experience of Dreamline.


When beginning to develop the dream banner the students first work on establishing their values. To do this, students must understand what they value and why they value it. This directly correlates to self-awareness. Part of self-awareness is identifying emotions and having an accurate self- perception. Understanding emotions and our perception of self helps us to develop what we value.

Values which are a person’s principals usually first come from the standards we set for ourselves. By being aware of who we are and what we believe personally our values start to take shape.


Our values are also related to self-management. The standards we set based on how we view ourselves then translates to the way we manage our behaviors. This connection shows that what we value leads to how we choose to behave. A person may value being courageous. This will lead to behaviors such as advocating for others. A person may value being kind. This will lead to behaviors that may result in service or giving. A person will manage what behaviors they have according to what they value. Not only does self-management encompass how a person behaves but it also relates to a person’s self-motivation and how a person sets goals. Values are a driving force to motivation and goals which in turn cause students to have a dream.


When talking about developing the value flags with students a teacher does not have to directly reference the competencies that are being fostered or connected. With Dreamline the act of developing the value portion of the banner allows for these skills to be addressed without being explicitly taught.

With SEL there are several components of implementation. One of those components is integrating the concepts of the competencies into different activities. Developing the value banner is an exceptional way to address SEL competencies with students.


The second portion of the banner is the dream banner. This part of the Dreamline project not only relates to self-awareness and self-management by carrying values into dreams, but it also relates to social awareness and responsible decision making. Social awareness allows for empathy and respecting diversity. When students begin to develop the dream portion of the flag they start to think in socially aware ways. One way to introduce this is to ask the students the problems they believe the world is currently facing. This activity promotes thinking about social issues or social injustices. Problems may include too many wars, pollution, or needing a cure for disease. This is working with the competency of social awareness. Students then can brainstorm how to solve these problems and translate that into their dream for the Dreamline banner.

Developing the dream poem with social awareness in mind students then begin to think about how to make responsible decisions to take what they see as a problem and formulate a solution.

Responsible decision making is an SEL competency that can be expanded through the creation of a dream banner. Formulating a solution or dream for the world internally provokes responsible decision- making ideas through questioning. A student may ask themselves “what can I do to help stop wars, what can I do to combat pollution, or how can I cure disease?” By eliciting these internal questions, decision making starts to formulate. Students will begin to write out the solution in a poem that shows the decisions they will make to ensure the solution to the social issue is achieved.


There is a natural connection of creating Dreamline banners and working with SEL competencies. Dreamline is not an explicit instruction of the competencies but rather an extension of putting the SEL competencies into action. Dreamline offers an outlet not only to express a dream that students have but to pull from SEL to develop those dreams.


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