WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – Using a few simple strings, cups and ping-pong balls, Mr. David Fox created a lesson on teamwork for students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School.
“What are the team’s goals? For example, what are the objectives?” he asks before starting an interactive game that forces students to strategize. The goal is to lift the ball into the cup using only the string, but the lesson goes beyond that.
“I don’t know how often they share their deepest personal issues with you, but sometimes they do.” is talking about
Social Emotional Learning classes like his provide daily opportunities for teachers to check in on their students while teaching children the skills to understand and manage emotions, set positive goals, and build positive relationships. It is designed to be
“A lot of what we set up is this whole system, trying to build success and build comfort. You can say, ‘Looks like you’re having a bit of a day off today,'” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is encouraged to see what is happening in many school districts across the country. He urges school leaders to use American Rescue Plan funds to fund more mental health support for him.
“I’m really excited that more communities are looking at mental health support and mental health as a core feature. Learning is more difficult if you are feeling or have other mental health needs. In addition, additional social workers, additional liaison between schools and families,” Cardona said.
Last year, the CDC found that 37% of high school students had mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% said they felt persistent sadness or hopelessness during that time. The study also found that students who felt connected to school, adults, and peers were less likely to feel that way.
“Kids want to share when something’s going on. People need to reveal it,” Fox said. “So if you ask questions, talk to your kids, and bring up topics, they’re more likely to share things and speak up. So don’t be afraid to ask your kids questions. is a good way to get children to talk.”
Cardona supports the message of dealing with mental health issues with a proactive approach.
“Schools see this in a different way. In the past, when children exploded, or when they had episodes of need or crisis, they started to support them. We’re seeing great strategies, with districts investing in additional staff to make sure student needs are being met,” he said.
Elisa Villanueva-Beard of Teach for America spoke about the types of problems teachers and students face.
“At Teach for America, we work primarily with children who grew up in low-income neighborhoods and children of color. Those cracks have actually become these big holes: our children are suffering from loss, loss of life, loss of work, loss of life at home. As you know, my family has had to survive the pandemic,” she said.
She emphasized the need to foster the conditions for students to learn and invest in counselors.She said teachers’ mental health also needs to be supported.
“We cannot expect our educators to hold and create the conditions on which we speak unless they feel that their needs are being met. They’ve been through a lot, they’re pushing themselves and trying to meet the moment they keep showing up, so it’s important that our teachers meet those basic needs. ,” she said. She added that Teach for America provides counseling for teachers. “Everyone needs to do it for our teachers and invest in them to ensure they have trauma-based practices. Knowing how to manage it productively.”
Villanueva-Beard said anyone who is affecting children needs to understand the tools to manage stress because it can affect them.
Meanwhile, teachers like Fox will continue to work hard to support students in the classroom.
“I mean, personally, I want them to come to school and have fun. I want them to feel comfortable with their classmates. If you want to feel free like a child and have a reason to look forward to school, because we all get bored at some point. But there’s a reason they get up and go to school, see their friends, play games, share their fun, and when it happens, they’re in that comfort zone. Once in, you’ll be able to talk about more serious things when you need to, right? .”
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