Discussion Formats for Addressing Emotions: Implications for Social-Emotional Learning

Adam Lefstein, Eran Hakim, Hadar Netz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) advocate discussion as a promising instructional method yet rarely specify how such discussions should be conducted. Facilitating classroom discussions is highly challenging, particularly about emotions. Furthermore, the SEL literature contains contradictory discursive imperatives; it typically overlooks the gaps between students’ and teachers’ emotional codes and how these codes are shaped by culture, class, and gender. The current study explores different ways in which teachers facilitate classroom dialogue about emotions. We analyze data drawn from a two-year ethnographic study conducted as part of a design-based implementation research project aimed at fostering productive dialogue in primary language arts classrooms, looking in particular at two lessons centered around a story about crying. We found two different interactional genres for discussions about emotions: (1) inclusive emotional dialogue, in which students share emotions experienced in their everyday lives; (2) emotional inquiry, in which students explore emotions, their expressions, and their social meanings. Both types of discussion generated informative exchanges about students’ emotions. Yet the discussions also put the teacher and students in challenging positions, often related to the need to navigate between contradictory discursive norms and emotional codes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A16-A38
JournalDialogic Pedagogy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • dialogic pedagogy
  • discourse analysis
  • emotional learning
  • ethnography
  • language arts
  • social

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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