Use SEL Day to establish year-round SEL strategies

Social and emotional skills are vital in both school, and the workplace. They can help children and adults build and maintain healthy relationships, develop a strong sense of self, manage stress, control their emotions, and more.

CASEL™ has defined five competence areas that lead to social and emotional success for children and adults. Those competence areas are Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. But many believe there are three additional areas: Optimistic Thinking, Goal-Directed Behavior and Personal Responsibility.

March 11 marks International SEL Day, a day focused on raising awareness of the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). There are many ways for teachers to incorporate practical strategies into their everyday lessons — on SEL Day and beyond — to help students practice and strengthen their SEL skills. Here are a few that teachers can use with their students on SEL Day, and all year round.…Read More

Playing to win: The vital role of research in the future of esports

You stand, triumphant in front of a crowd cheering your name. After years of dedicated training and countless hours of practice, you’ve made it to the pinnacle of your game, the moment of enjoying the spoils of being a world-class athlete. Just a few months later, the pressure, stress, and injuries due to maintaining that top position have had a severe impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health and you’re forced to retire at 23.

While this may sound like a tragic story of a basketball or football athlete struck down as they were beginning their career, it happens for esports athletes too.

Esports–commonly accepted as “a multiplayer video game played competitively in front of spectators, by both professional and amateur gamers”–is quickly becoming a household term along with esports game titles such as Rogue Company, Call of Duty, and Rocket League. Over the last several years, schools and universities have realized that esports allows students who felt excluded from other extracurricular activities to finally find their “place” doing something they are passionate about within their scholastic environment. Research shows that students involved in an extracurricular activity are more engaged in the classroom and in their studies.…Read More

3 ways classroom ecosystems are changing

One of the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ecosystem as “something (such as a network of businesses) considered to resemble an ecological ecosystem especially because of its complex interdependent parts.”

When you take a look at a classroom, there are several interdependent parts working together to create a successfully functioning classroom. The students, teachers, technology, curriculum, physical space, and furniture all play a role in creating a successful learning environment–and as we saw with the pandemic, a disruption to this ecosystem can have dire effects.

According to a report by Rand Corporation, teachers’ stress levels are at an all-time high and threaten the teacher pipeline. At the same time, according to a McKinsey Report, the pandemic has caused students to fall months behind in learning math and reading and has caused older students to disengage from their education.…Read More

3 ways chatbots can support mental health in schools

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory warning about a mental health crisis for children. Several national health organizations have also declared a national state of emergency for child and adolescent mental health resulting from prolonged stress, instability, and isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is old news for most of our educators, who once again find themselves as the baseline support system we rely on to fulfill the basic needs of our nation’s youth.

“When students returned to classrooms in August this year, we saw higher levels of stress and anxiety,” said Patrick Brady, Superintendent at the Massena Central School District in New York. “Addressing mental health concerns has become a number one priority in our district.”…Read More

How educators can make time for self-care

This time of year sees email in boxes filled with information about how to prepare for the next year, reminders that grades are due, and papers await grading. We are deluged with predictions about the future, what to worry about, and sometimes even what to be excited about. Those with calendar year goals are often rushing to complete projects or solidify a final sale. Family and other holiday obligations can often add an extra level of stress as well. One thing often missing is how to make sure you are balanced and ensure you are taking time for self-care.

According to a recent NBC article about the increasing educator shortage, between retirements among an already-aging population and the stress and burnout of the pandemic, the number of potential educators in the pipeline is not nearly enough to match needs.

An October 2021 NPR report showed that 80,000 aspiring nurses were turned away from nursing schools due to a lack of adequate nursing instructors. It is clear that educator burnout can directly lead to shortages in other critical areas such as health care.…Read More

Aperture Education’s 2021 Winter SEL Guide Supports Social and Emotional Learning during the Winter Months

Charlotte N.C. (Nov. 22, 2021) — The winter months are a time when many families celebrate holidays and when students and teachers have a chance to relax and recharge over winter break. Yet many people may also experience increases in stress, anxiety, and loneliness during this time. To support students and educators this winter, Aperture Education, the leading provider of research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) assessments for K-12 schools, has created a free 2021 Winter SEL Guide. The Guide provides activities and strategies for practicing and strengthening the social and emotional skills that can help students and adults have a positive winter break and a strong start to 2022. To download the guide, visit https://bit.ly/3God8rj.

“Building social and emotional competence is helpful in navigating difficult emotions and stress, including those that can sometimes arise during the holiday months,” said Jessica Adamson, CEO of Aperture Education. “One of the best ways to strengthen social and emotional skills is to practice them. Our 2021 Winter SEL Guide is a great resource, full of activities and strategies for both students and teachers to support SEL during the winter break and when school resumes in January.”

The activities in the Winter SEL Guide focus on social and emotional skills such as relationship-building, goal setting, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, social-awareness and self-management. The Guide includes SEL resources for teachers to share with families, resources teachers can use themselves to catch up on SEL professional development, and ideas to help educators plan for the new year.…Read More

10 SEL activities teachers can use to manage stress levels

Educators, last year was tough. You are truly rock stars for getting your students (and yourselves) through a difficult year. This year will likely bring about new challenges and obstacles, and we know at times you will feel stressed.

When not addressed, stress can lead to harmful health concerns like anxiety and depression, reduced attention, impaired self-regulation, and decreased learning readiness. It can also lead to negative well-being factors, such as sleep and eating disorders. Extended exposure to toxic stress also can have lasting mental and physical health effects.

Be proactive about keeping your stress levels in check with these 10 de-stressing activities.…Read More

3 strategies for virtual student-centered learning

When secondary educators plunged into emergency online teaching in March 2020, we faced a slew of challenges. Among those challenges was the lack of student engagement after the novelty of logging in from home in pajamas wore off.

What started as a two week attempt at keeping things as normal as possible “just until after Spring Break,” became more than a year of uncertainty combined with lack of knowledge and resources to maintain high levels of engagement and content delivery. This is not for lack of trying, most definitely on the part of educators everywhere, and we’ve now reached a point where teaching blog posts like “Is Anyone In Teaching Actually Happy?” fill my teacher-gram.

The exhaustion, unhappiness, and stress-related languish and depression are widely reported and seen, but teachers are not giving up. Those who remain in the uncertain state of “What will this year hold?” as the pandemic continues might benefit from some of the ideas offered here, even if it is just to know that they are not alone in still attempting to engage with students despite the challenges of the educational landscape.…Read More

10 SEL activities to help students with stress management

As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and care to your students and their families. One of the best ways you can support students during these uncertain times is by teaching them effective stress management strategies.

Just like adults, unmanaged stress in students can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, poor concentration, aggression, physical illness, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. It can also increase tobacco, drug, and/or alcohol use.

Here are 10 activities to help your students learn effective stress management.…Read More

How administrators can address mental health and physical safety this fall

With the academic year underway, K-12 schools have resumed in-person learning. However, there is growing concern amongst parents, students, teachers, and faculty that reopenings come with a variety of safety and health risks. Threats of public violence, mental health concerns, uncertainty around the Delta variant, and more all stand in the way of educators having a successful school year.

A recent survey found that 57 percent of respondents are “extremely or very concerned” that a post-pandemic crisis could affect their safety or the safety of a loved one in a school environment. When combined with the knowledge that students are under significant mental health stress and that many younger learners are still unvaccinated, administrators should think carefully about how best to ensure a safe return to classrooms. 

The key lies in putting tools, strategies, and policies in place today that ease concerns and minimize risk. By taking the proper steps, schools can focus on creating healthy learning environments for students rather than worrying about the safety challenges at hand.…Read More