2020 has proven to be a taxing year for not only students, but also educators. Senior scientist, Sheila Ohlsson Walker, points out that in order to rightfully optimize the educational landscape for children and meet the needs of diverse learners, our focus should first look towards optimizing the school environment for teachers. Ohlsson Walker stresses that to both buffer anxiety and “create and sustain the necessary conditions for emotional and physical healing, education systems and individual schools must prioritize teacher wellness as the first step in student recovery.”
Neuroscientist and Director of Neuroscience Education at Scientific Learning, Martha S. Burns, explores and focuses adverse childhood experiences, otherwise known as ACEs, and their ultimate effect on the health and welfare of children. Burns cites a 2016 ACE research study conducted on 1,007 urban students nationwide, which showed that children experiencing ACEs in childhood were likely to have below-average kindergarten academic and literacy achievements. Although there is little educators can do to change household exposures to violence, abuse, or parental issues, Burns shares how emerging research suggests that if students have access to positive relationships with adults, including their teachers, the benefits outweigh their adversity
Managing Editor of ASCD’s Education Week, Sarah McKibben, examines how important is it for educators to foster a more gender inclusive classroom. McKibben advocates that teachers should become more sensitive to the way in which gender is presented in their classrooms so that their students who don’t relate to the gender binary can feel included. To help teachers move from awareness to action, McKibben provides a series of strategies educators can take in order to make their classrooms more inclusive.
In early May 2020, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in collaboration with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators in New York City, conducted a survey to understand just how urban school principals, assistant principals and district-level supervisors were feeling during the COVID-19crisis. Consequently, the results were overwhelmingly negative, showcasing just how much the pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s school leaders. Mark Brackett of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; Mark Cannizarro of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators; and Scott Levy of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, survey the worries school leaders are currently facing, as well as how a focus on social-emotional learning can help make this coming academic year a successful one.