By Peter Smagorinksy
Republished with permission from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mental health has emerged as a critical social and educational topic during the COVID 19 crisis. My contact with my University of Georgia students throughout the shutdown has found many of them struggling with mental health issues. Many of them had pre-existing conditions of anxiety, depression, and other mood and neurological challenges that were ramped up by their return home.
The home is often celebrated as a sanctuary from the world’s ills and evils, but many homes are very insecure. Some of my students left their college dorms for homes characterized by abuse, alcoholism, crowded quarters, anxious and frustrated parents, and other sources of stress and fear. Others developed anxiety and other challenges when cut off from friends and social lives and forced into baby-sitting or home schooling duties with their younger siblings by parents who were deeply stressed by demands of their own.
Continue reading “Pay more attention to mental health than to test scores”
By Cathleen Beachboard
As schools start making Covid-19 contingency plans for next school year, we must address a secondary crisis that will affect school systems and classrooms everywhere: traumatic stress. Even before this pandemic, almost half the nation’s children had experienced one or more types of serious childhood trauma, according to a survey on Adverse Childhood Experiences by the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). This pandemic, unfortunately, is adding to that trauma with its far-reaching ripple effects from families losing jobs and income, people going hungry, children seeing family members sick and dying, and a looming fear to leave home due to threat of illness. Even the parents or guardians whom students normally turn to for stability may be overwhelmed trying to keep their own mental health stable. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56 percent of adults said that this pandemic has affected their mental health, and 19 percent stated that it has had a major impact.
Continue reading “The Future of Education: Trauma Informed Practices”
Let’s begin with a conversation among fourth graders. These students were sitting in a group of four and discussing structural and behavioral adaptations in plants and animals.
DeVon: Hawks have sharp claws that kill their prey.
Casey: What is this? (looking at a worksheet)
Diamond: A artic fox has…
Reshma: Insects are shaped like a leaf so predators think they are real leaves.
DeVon: A rosebush has thorns to…where’s this go [inferring the question: is this a structural or behavioral adaptation]?
Reshma: Frogs have long strong legs to hop really far.
At first glance, this sounds like a conversation. The students are talking about the science topic and they are facing one another around the table. But, unfortunately, this isn’t a conversation at all. To qualify as a real conversation, students need to talk to one another, listen carefully to each other, and take turns in the discussion so that one idea builds upon another. This scenario falls short. Although it is terrific to see students actively engaged in a science activity, there is so much more that is possible and necessary in a science classroom so that students get the most out of the instruction. High quality science discussions require students to use social and emotional skills (Hunt, Rimm-Kaufman, Merritt, & Bowers, in press). Without those skills in use, students remain focused on their own ideas. The quality of their answers reflect individual, not collective knowledge.
Continue reading “STEM: Leveraging SEL Skills to Improve Science Instruction”
especially important as teachers and students think more deeply about the
meaning of equity—how we might achieve it, and what might be standing in the
way of social justice and fairness to all. Students must learn to
pose essential questions: Who makes decisions and who is left out? Who benefits
and who is left out? Who suffers? Why is a given practice fair or unfair?
There are many books
available for teaching the importance of perspective-taking so students can
begin to think about equity and respond to questions such as these. Some are
light and humorous, like The True Story
of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf. Others are more thought-provoking, and
explore personal issues such as bullying or sensing what it feels like to walk
in someone else’s shoes. There are other books that examine historical events
from perspectives that are different from the commonly held view. For social
emotional learning, I have selected stories of a more serious nature, listed below,
though each is intriguing in its own way.
Continue reading “Social Studies: Reading to Foster Perspective-Taking”
Teachers have always known that they have a duty to teach students, not just content. Most of the skills taught beyond the core curriculum fit under the umbrella of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). CASEL identifies five competencies of SEL: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. While all of these competencies should be practiced in the social studies classroom, I want to focus on two:
- Appreciating diversity
- Respect for others
Continue reading “Social Studies: Integrating Social and Emotional Learning”
- Identifying problems
- Analyzing situations
- Solving problems
- Ethical Responsibility
we all want to do the right thing when confronted with a bullying situation,
the right response may not always be clear to us. It is clear that some
strategies are more effective than others. Here we review a few strategies that
researchers suggest are not effective
at reducing bullying or stopping it from reoccurring. While some of these may
surprise you, others will probably make sense when you consider the reasons why
they are not recommended, because they either increase bullying behaviors or
make the situation worse.
Continue reading “Bullying: 5 Common Responses to Avoid”
In celebration of the first day of summer, we are
happy to announce the winners of the Norton Books in Education Social and
Emotional Learning Solutions Series book giveaway!
Continue reading “Congratulations to our Book Giveaway Winners!”