by Jonna Kuskey
The pandemic laid bare what has for years been very apparent to those of us in the education system: society is reliant upon schools to take care of more than children’s educational needs. School is a lifeline, a stabilizing force that provides boundaries, routine, sustenance, safety, security, love.
As such, school is one major provider in children’s lives of their basic physical and psychological needs—food, safety, a sense of belonging. According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), these fundamental physical and psychological needs must be met before the ones that as educators we aim to nurture—a sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and fulfillment of personal potential—can be addressed.
Continue reading “Pandemic Reflections: School and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs “
by Debra Em Wilson
In education, we don’t write books for fame or fortune—that aim is best left to the J. K. Rowlings of the world. We write because we have something important to say. As an educator for more than thirty years in the field, I’ve observed the ever-increasing demands placed on teachers in classrooms. The internet is rife with articles about teachers leaving the field due to burnout, disillusionment, frustration, and compassion fatigue. Teachers enter the field to teach, yet it often seems the classroom is expected to serve more as a mental health clinic than a place of academic learning. This leaves us feeling like our skill sets are inadequate and we’re “not enough” when it comes to meeting the diverse emotional needs of our students.
As teachers, we love to witness all students engaged, motivated, and thriving in the classroom. This begins with understanding learning as an embodied experience involving the bi-directional loop between the mind and body. In my book, The Polyvagal Path to Joyful Learning, I share the science that underpins regulation, resilience, and academic buoyancy in a practical way that is within the skill sets of teachers and leads to the ultimate goal of optimized learning for every student. Along the way, I integrate Polyvagal Theory with concepts familiar to educators including academic resilience, fixed and growth mindsets, cognitive load theory, extended mind science, and Martin’s Wheel of Motivation and Engagement.
We don’t need yet another curriculum—heaven help us! We need a better understanding of what it means to be a regulated human in a dysregulated world. We need to see the joyful messiness of our classrooms through a polyvagal lens of hope, curiosity, and possibility. It’s only from a state of regulation that we create a transformative space for change and can see preferred or alternative futures. I invite you to come on a journey of discovery with me as I explain Polyvagal Theory and its classroom implementation through stories and metaphors, while tossing about a bit of humor in the process—something we can all use more of these days!
Continue reading “Polyvagal Theory: What Is It and How Can Teachers Use It?”
2022 saw teachers and students alike adjusting to a “new normal.” As the dust settles on the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many educators have found themselves facing new quandaries: How do we address the inequities that were exposed and heightened by the pandemic? How can we help students “catch up” scholastically, socially, and emotionally when they’ve spent formative years in a state of lockdown? Can things really go back to normal? Should they? Below are five popular posts from 2022 addressing these and other important and timely concerns from educators.
Continue reading “2022 in Review”
by Dr. Sharon Kunde
I sometimes refer to an event that happened “before the pandemic” and then correct myself: what I mean is “before the lockdown.” Even as our social and work lives have started to return to pre-pandemic norms, the pandemic is not over for any of us. But it’s particularly not over for students, and its persistence has different impacts on students of different ages.
Continue reading “Pandemic Reflections: On the Class of 2024”
by Kyleen Gray
I have heard many people speak of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that humans have a wonderful tendency to try to see the good in terrible experiences, but in reflecting on the pandemic I just can’t seem to find much good to mull over. What does come to mind are the cracks in our educational systems that the pandemic uncovered, revealing how fragile our carefully constructed systems really are. We must identify these cracks, acknowledge that they could reopen, and attempt to patch them before another crisis occurs.
Continue reading “Pandemic Reflections: Sealing the Cracks “
by Kevin Scott
If you ask any educator how last school year went, you’ll likely get an exasperated sigh in response. From new teachers to those with decades of experience, from those teaching pre-k music through the most advanced high school physics class, the 2021-2022 school year was unusually challenging. At the beginning of the year, we just wanted to get back to full classrooms for the first time in over a year. But as I wrote in January 2022, by mid-school year things weren’t perfect by anyone’s assessment and the struggles students faced around “how to do” school in person again were both behavioral and academic. This stressed not only students but also their parents, teachers, and school administrators. So now that I’ve been off for a few weeks and I can sleep well (and longer) again, I’m starting to think about what educators can do next year to improve on what was a difficult “first year back.”
Continue reading “A Fresh Start: Tips for Teachers and School Leaders in the New School Year”