Check-In On Your Staff’s Social-Emotional Health
In a year of remote learning, socially distant classrooms, and video conference check-ins, it’s easy to let social-emotional health take the backseat. After all, there are learning standards to meet, performance benchmarks to hit, and school-wide decisions to make that can impact your institutions for weeks, months, and years to come.
In his book Pause. Breathe. Flourish.: Living Your Best Life as an Educator, author and educator William Parker discusses the mass exodus of teachers and principals from education due to the overwhelming demands of the profession and rising expectations of educators to be available and accessible beyond the school hours.
Add the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the already high-stakes environment of education, and teachers all over the country are feeling burnt out, overworked, and anxious.
We’ve talked previously about the importance of social-emotional learning competencies and how they benefit the classroom, but when did you last check in on your staff’s social-emotional health?
Why Social-Emotional Health is Essential in Education
While social-emotional learning is trendy this academic season, it’s not likely to ever go away. Understanding how to use and manage emotions related to achievement, empathy, and decision-making is a crucial life skill that can be examined and practiced in the classroom setting for lifelong results.
“To truly germinate and grow, [social-emotional learning] concepts must be embedded in the walls of our classrooms as well as the fabric of our daily learning experiences. We lead by example, modeling both successful and challenging moments,” says Wendy Turner, a “warrior of social-emotional learning” in an interview on the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast.
To truly germinate and grow, [social-emotional learning] concepts must be embedded in the walls of our classrooms as well as the fabric of our daily learning experiences. - Wendy Turner
In order to do this, educators must be actively engaged in their own social-emotional health and well-being and willing to authentically approach the five competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making in their classrooms.
Administrators can reinforce the importance of this by creating space for social-emotional health in institution procedures and leading by example with their own interactions with the competencies.
Teachers connect with their students through a combination of trust and respect. The same is true of the professional dynamic between administrators and those on their staff. By building trust through shared social-emotional experiences, administrators model that connectedness is a priority and the well-being of their staff is not an afterthought.
Teachers mirror the behavior of their leaders, so reflect on how you are modeling what you want to see in them. - William Parker
Small Steps to Get Started
Incorporating a focus on the social-emotional health of your educators won’t happen overnight.
Start small by:
- Building trusting relationships with those on your staff and encouraging members in managerial roles to do the same.
- Implementing a practice of regular check-ins.
- Following-through when someone reveals they need a little extra support.
- Looking for ways to positively reinforce open dialogue and healthy social-emotional processing.
As Parker says, “Teachers mirror the behavior of their leaders, so reflect on how you are modeling what you want to see in them.”
We know you care about your staff and hope these few small steps help you take action and make a difference in their social-emotional health.