In January 2020, William Blair was promoted to the newly created position of Wellness Coordinator at the Mountain View Los Altos (MVLA) Union High School District in California, with high hopes and a deep sense of mission. For nearly a decade beforehand, Blair had served as a teacher, and had recently transitioned to district administrative work, eager to strengthen community within classrooms. He felt proud of his forward-thinking district for creating this new position to address social-emotional learning and school climate. And then ....the pandemic obliterated everyone's carefully laid plans.
“Today’s [youth] are more knowledgeable and informed than any other generation before them,” says Preeti Shrikhande, founder and CEO of Vivensity. “Yet, there’s been a rapid increase in anxiety, depression, and sadly, a 33% increase in suicide.”
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm. Not join their chaos.” L.R. Knost
While learning a new language can be fun and exciting, bilingual and multilingual experience increases academic performance, enhances work-force success, and even slows down age-related brain decline.
Think back to your own education, about a time that arts-at-school made a lasting impression on you. Perhaps it was wrapping squares of tissue paper around our pencil erasers to create a unique Mother’s Day card. Maybe we contributed to a mural on the elementary playground, or played a role in the middle school musical, or kicked off homecoming as a member of the marching band.
Opportunities to learn and practice social emotional skills in a variety of settings- including at home- help young people develop SEL mastery. Like other forms of learning, SEL success is enhanced by strong school-home partnerships. In fact, positive SEL outcomes are most likely to occur when social-emotional skill sets have wrap-around value (that is, they’re mutually supported and communicated at home, at school, and in the community).
On February 2, 2021 NPR reported on the death of Anthony Orr. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony missed all of the rites of passage that should have been the culmination of his senior year of high school. His parents said he seemed fine and happy, but in August of 2020, Anthony tragically took his own life.
As a student-teacher, I taught in a third-grade classroom with 35 students: six of whom had Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), five with 504 accommodations, and 12 who were English Language Learners (ELLs). I had no special education training, nor any knowledge of how to accommodate ELLs, but as a student teacher I knew that the student make-up of our classroom was unbalanced in comparison to the two other classrooms in our grade level. The other two classrooms had significantly less IEP, 504, and ELL students. I experienced firsthand how this inherent inequity made it challenging to meet the unique needs of these identified students.