June 1st, 2020

SEL in a time of uncertainty

I believe what is working best now for SEL is teachers who have the flexibility and knowledge base to attend to students social and emotional needs FIRST before any learning can really take place. Until we can get back to school and ensure equitable access for all learners, we will only be widening the gap academically between those who have the support, motivation, and tech access and those who do not. I am concerned that mental health issues, which used to be more easily identified by teachers and counselors seeing students face to face, are now not being noticed or seen. Teachers need training on how to recognize challenges to and support students emotional well-being...thinking about next fall when teachers may not even get to meet new students face to face so may not be able to establish a baseline of what is "normal" for that student so won't be able to tell if something is wrong/different. I would love to see a focus on resilience, teaching through trauma, and a prioritization/integration of real conversations about current events (race, protests, social justice, and COVID) so we can build community to engage all learners. Barriers to prior integration include FUNDING and TIME- I believe most teachers would gladly "pause" on regular content and pivot to relationship building and helping student process their emotions about all of the uncertainty we are facing, if they had the "go ahead" from the state.

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