The start of this school year has brought with it a mix of feelings for educators and students alike. Perhaps the strongest has been relief—even joy—at returning to physical classrooms and the company of peers, resuming sports practices and other much-missed afterschool activities, and leaving behind the experience of learning or teaching in front of a computer screen with only virtual interactions to sustain engagement. But it has also been accompanied by record rates of depression and anxiety, as everyone carries with them to school the pandemic legacy of stress and isolation, grief, and fear.
I’m proud to say that Norton Books in Education has just this week published Coming of Age in 2020: Teenagers on the Year that Changed Everything in which teenagers from across the country show what it was like to be trapped inside and missing—or reinventing—milestones like graduations and championship games while the coronavirus pandemic raged, an economic collapse threatened, the 2020 election loomed and the Black Lives Matter movement galvanized millions. The 161 pieces chosen for the book—diary entries, comics, photos, poems, paintings, texts, lists, charts, songs, Lego sculptures, recipes and rants—come from over 5500 entries to a contest that The New York Times Learning Network ran in the fall of 2020, inviting students to share their experiences during a time that will define their generation. We think it’s an extraordinary collection from ordinary teenagers that is, as Jim Burke says, “a testimony to the strength and resilience of young people.” For despite the stressful events these students were experiencing, their creative pieces often sound a note of hope, growth, and inner resolve. This seems like an opportune time to look back at where we all were two years ago and think with students about the changes that have occurred.
Today on K-12Talk we’re sharing a small selection of these student pieces, with their accompanying artist’s statements, and we encourage you to visit The Learning Network site for exciting ideas about how to teach with these materials: How to Teach With the Art and Artifacts in Our New Book,‘Coming of Age in 2020’
Carol Collins, Education Editor
Continue reading “Student Pieces from “Coming of Age in 2020”: How Teenagers Experienced the Pandemic”
As 2022 gets underway, one of the top concerns of educators continues to be the mental health of students and teachers alike. Below are five of our most popular posts from 2021 focusing on strategies for supporting resilience and emotional well-being.
Continue reading “2021 in Review”
by Laura Milligan
Teaching children to prioritize their well-being is an essential part of an education, and is now more important than ever as children continue to process the traumas and stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare to return to in-person schooling. Wellness can take many shapes, and as a teacher I believe that reading is an essential act of self-care. When we read, we cultivate connection, a deeper sense of empathy, and peace within ourselves, which in turn emanates to those around us. Reading offers students and teachers alike space to reflect and reset after a year blanketed with bewilderment. Here are seven reasons to promote reading among your students.
Continue reading “Use Summer Reading to Recharge After a Stressful Year”
by Nina Parrish
According to survey data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016, about 6.1 million (or 9.4 percent) of children in the United States were diagnosed, at that time, with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Yale researcher and clinical psychologist Thomas Brown describes ADHD as an impairment of the executive functioning system. This means that students with ADHD can struggle with tasks such as organizing, prioritizing, getting started, staying focused, maintaining effort, regulating emotions, remembering learned information, holding information in mind while working, and the ability to self-regulate or monitor work for quality and completion.
Due to preexisting challenges with executive functioning and emotional regulation, students with ADHD may have struggled more than their neurotypical classmates to adjust to the many changes in schooling and other stressors brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC found that, prior to the pandemic, 6 in 10 children with ADHD had at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or a conduct disorder. A research review conducted by Rosanna Breaux, a professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, showed that during this past school year many students with ADHD not only experienced an increase in ADHD symptoms such as difficulty with attention and impulse control, but were also more likely to experience an increase in all mental/emotional/behavioral disorder symptoms.
Continue reading “Helping Students with ADHD Readjust to In-Person Schooling”
This post is an excerpt from Alex Shevrin Venet’s new book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education (W. W. Norton).
Once students have experienced trauma, how is their access to and experience of their education affected? Based on what we know about how trauma impacts student learning, we can see that school isn’t equitable for trauma-affected students. Schools can be indifferent to how trauma affects children, even outright retraumatizing and harmful. If we want school to be equitable for students who have experienced trauma, we need to rethink how common practices in schools are failing our trauma-affected students.
Continue reading “School Isn’t Equitable for Trauma-Affected Students”
By Kasey Short
With the unprecedented stressors faced by students over the past year—from the COVID-19 pandemic to the police violence perpetrated against members of the Black community—it’s no wonder that many teachers are looking to raise greater awareness of mental hygiene among their students. The more students read books that address mental health, the more we can reduce the stigma that surrounds suffering from and seeking help for mental illnesses. The below books provide examples of characters that experience complex feelings, counter stereotypes surrounding mental illness, show the humanity behind a diagnosis, and provide concrete examples of children who are navigating their own mental health or the mental health of someone they love.
Continue reading “23 Books that Teach K-12 Students about Mental Health”
This post is adapted from the book Teaching Mindfulness to Empower Adolescents by Matthew Brensilver, JoAnna Hardy, and Oren Jay Sofer (W. W. Norton, March 2020).
Life is often intense, but in this moment, it can be overwhelming. As educators, parents, indeed as humans, we find ourselves in a grueling and extended period of instability and challenge. Coronavirus, economic hardship, political strife and the transition to online learning are all unfolding in a context of a national grieving and reckoning with the country’s racial history. For many, it feels like the tectonic plates of our lives are shifting and we are not sure where to find our balance.
Given this context, our leadership role as educators becomes even more important. Our capacity to act as a keel in the lives of our students is vital. How can we serve this function and how might mindfulness help?
Continue reading “You are the Instrument: Teaching Mindfulness and Personal Practice”
By Louise Goldberg
Since early spring of 2020, the classroom experience has changed dramatically for students across the country and worldwide. School closings, remote learning, and social distancing have created extraordinary disruptions to the classroom environment and left many feeling isolated and distraught.
Even when schools reopen, many children will continue to stay home and rely on their screens for instruction and social interaction. Those who do attend school may find sparsely populated classrooms with curtailed opportunities for group activities. What was once the hub of their social lives may prove to be an almost empty landscape void of playful encounters such as bus rides, recess, hallway jostling and joking, school lunch, and other once banal occurrences. Who knows when these activities will resume?
Continue reading “Building Classroom Community from a Distance”
By Jonna Kuskey
To say the 2020-21 school year will begin a little differently than most is an understatement. Public health experts have indicated schools may still be dealing with the effects of the pandemic in the new year, which means more remote and online learning may be on the horizon, and we need to be ready if that occurs. We also need to be ready for the COVID-19 slide, much like the typical summer slide, only steeper. A study by Kuhfeld, et al, “Projecting the Potential Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures on Academic Achievement,” projects students will begin this year with “approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year” and 37-50% in math.1
Continue reading “The Effects of COVID-19 Are Not Just Academic: Preparing for Reopened Classrooms”
By David Nurenberg
Samuel Pepys lived through the Great Plague of London, a 1665 pandemic where bubonic plague killed a quarter of London’s population in just 18 months, during which time the Great Fire of London also robbed twice that many Londoners of their homes. Anne Frank spent the last four years of her young life hiding in a concealed room behind a bookcase in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in the 1940s. Throughout the 2000s, missionary nurse Kelly Suter treated victims of the East Timor genocide, the Haitian earthquake and the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.
What do these three people have in common? They all kept meticulous journals of the troubling times they lived through (or, in the case of Frank, didn’t live to see the end of). Keeping a journal as a means of coping with and processing adversity is almost as old as the invention of writing itself; the Book of Merer, an ancient Egyptian journal dating back 4500 years, is the oldest surviving work written on papyrus.
Continue reading “Engage your students as future historians of our present times”