Social and emotional competencies can help educators manage their stress and navigate the coming school year in a healthy manner

3 steps educators can take to build social and emotional competence this summer


Social and emotional competencies can help educators manage their stress and navigate the coming school year in a healthy manner

Summer is here, and if you haven’t taken the opportunity yet, it’s time to relax. Teacher stress amidst the pandemic has understandably received a lot of attention, but even before COVID-19 turned our world, including our schools, upside down in an unprecedented way, 61 percent of teachers reported that work was “always” or “often” stressful, which is twice the rate of the general population and akin to the stress levels reported by doctors and lawyers (Greenberg, Brown, & Abenavoli, 2016).

That stress also has a ripple effect. The negative impact of stress may begin with an  educator’s physical health and mental well-being and spreads to affect relationships with students and colleagues, the classroom environment, student achievement, and teacher turnover (Bintliff, 2020; Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, 2020; Greenberg, Brown, & Abenavoli, 2016; Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014).

While there are a variety of ways to combat stress in general, including diet, exercise, meditation, and other techniques, SEL provides a unique lens for stress management in the context of the classroom.

In addition to helping manage personal stress levels, educators with strong social and emotional skills are better at navigating everyday challenges, are more prepared for the challenges of classroom management, are better able to model social and emotional skills to students, and are more adept at implementing social and emotional programs. National surveys indicate teachers want more professional development on the topic of SEL and how to tailor it to meet the needs of their students, yet most teachers do not receive SEL instruction in their preparation programs (Hamilton & Doss, 2020; Melnick & Martinez, 2019; Schonert-Reichle, Kitil, & Hanson-Peterson, 2017; Schwartz et al., 2020).

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