As schools prepare to reopen this summer or early fall, it is imperative that everyone take a long, hard look at social-emotional learning and its potential impact on those involved in getting schools reopened. For students, the pandemic has ushered in a time of uncertainty in an institution that has, for all of their lives, provided certainty. For teachers and staff, this time of Covid-19 has disrupted schedules, claimed family members, precipitated a financial crisis, and separated them from the students that they are so dedicated to educating.
Implementing SEL practices is necessary to help both students and staff fully understand what is happening in the world around them, as they help provide the strategies and skills needed to hopefully begin to emerge, from this unfortunate situation, thriving. During this time of absence from what we have come to know as school, educators have been busy trying to meet the needs of their students in a variety of ways (in-person, virtual, hybrid), as they were concurrently managing the challenges of their own health and safety, and that of their families.
Things to Think About
Strategically including effective SEL practices can only lead to more success as we welcome students back to a more traditional version of school in several weeks. The VDOE has provided a variety of easy-to-use reference tools that provide vital information, gives you things to consider and helpful links to address student and family needs, support for educators, and self-care resources.
Likewise, teachers and school staff members must take the time to address their own social-emotional needs, and not underestimate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on both their professional and personal lives. In the words of the VDOE’s Social Emotional Wellness Resource, “We cannot control what is happening to us and around us, but we can control how we respond to it.” Strategically considering and implementing effective SEL practices for teachers and school staff should be an integral part of the return to school plan of every school district and school. The VDOE provides information that can be helpful to educators as they plan to effectively reopen schools and begin serving most students in the school setting. This resource provides teachers and staff SEL and wellness information through articles and other printed material, webinars and videos, and strategies or tools.
SEL Roadmap to Reopening
The NAESP SEL Roadmap to Reopening (Communicator, July 2020. Volume 43, Issue 11) provides four SEL critical practices to help schools create supportive learning environments and foster social, emotional, and academic learning as we reunite and renew through this global pandemic. They are:
Critical Practice 1 – Take time to cultivate and deepen relationships, build partnerships and plan for SEL.
Critical Practice 2 – Design opportunities where adults can connect, heal, and build their capacity to support students.
Critical Practice 3 – Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development.
Critical Practice 4 – Use data as an opportunity to share power, deepen relationships, and continuously improve support for students, family and staff.
For more information, check out this resource. Keep in mind that as you embark on this reopening opportunity, using a data-informed tiered framework is an efficient and effective way to consider your use of resources: time, personnel and fiscal. A multi-tiered framework will help your team ensure and monitor the quality of what is provided at each tier, and that there is equitable access for all.