Creating a positive school culture is imperative to the success of students. But getting to that point can be a challenge. Many factors can affect the culture of a school, including teachers, and their students’ health, well-being and daily behavior. But some may say that in order to have teachers focus on their students’ social and emotional health, schools need to have their teachers focus on their own social and emotional well-being. It is a necessity that teachers recognize their own social and emotional space; they can’t be successful in the classroom and be who their students need them to be until they are fully self-aware.
Mandy Froehlich, Director of Innovation and Technology for the Ripon Area School District, who takes a special interest in Social and Emotional Learning, is a proponent of mindfulness, balance and self-reflection being three important areas that can be used when focusing on teachers’ well-being. She believes that knowing how to use these mechanisms, starting with yourself, as a teacher, can be so useful when in the classroom because when teachers have their own feelings and thoughts in place, they are better able to serve their students. Most teachers are not trained psychologists or therapists and generally don’t know the exact right way to take on not only their own challenges, but also the challenges their students face. Having a proactive approach to social emotional learning overall can be incredibly successful when impacting student success. Mandy shared with us that a large accomplishment for her school district was having one of their teachers go through the process of becoming a mindfulness coach. From there, the teacher coach was able to work with and share the many mechanisms in which teachers can learn the skills needed to work with students on mindfulness, getting them to translate their takeaways to how they approach social emotional learning in the classroom.
When it comes to learning how to integrate social emotional tactics in the classroom, it is a challenge to ask teachers to do something they may not have done before, which is where outside resources are a great place to tap into. Hoonuit supports social and emotional learning through on-demand content that educates the learner on the importance of being self-aware and how that impacts students’ success.
Teachers must possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes of social awareness, self-management and relationship proficiencies before they can help their students gain these skills. It is an opportunity for self-growth to become competent and caring teachers. Students spend so much of their time with their teachers, so when teachers are self-aware and have taken enough time to be self-reflective, they will be ready to pass that confidence on to their students.
Watch this quick video, pulled from our Social and Emotional Learning Essentials module, on the importance of teachers in SEL.
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