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

Focusing on safety can help schools mitigate teacher stress

A defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic is the haze of uncertainty in which we now live. Are cases rising or falling? Which activities are deemed “safe” for the vaccinated? And now that most U.S. schools have re-opened in person, will they stay open, and can they keep COVID-19 at bay?

This uncertainty has landed heavily on teachers and contributed to teacher stress. For several reasons, the jobs to which they returned in fall 2021 are more challenging than what they faced in the pre-COVID world.

First, at a time in which vaccines remain unapproved for children under 12, and in which many older children remain unvaccinated, teachers worry about students’ health and their own. They recognize that social distancing is at odds with many student-centered teaching techniques, and they don’t want to spend their days as mask enforcers, but they also want to stay safe. In a nationally representative survey of teachers conducted by RAND earlier this year, 16 percent of teachers ranked concern for their own health as their top source of job-related stress, and 17 percent said their top concern was for the health of loved ones at home with high COVID risk.…Read More

Cracking the code on student mental health

The past year has taken a toll on students’ mental health. Rates of anxiety, depression, and stress are up and the CDC reports emergency room visits for adolescent suicide attempts have soared.

Teachers and school staff can play a critical role in addressing student mental health and supporting student wellbeing. But they can only help if they know what to watch for–and the warning signs aren’t always readily apparent.

Students often spend several hours a day online and often the first clues as to their feelings–good or bad–are found in their online communications with peers, their posts on social media and in chat rooms, and in their internet searches.…Read More

Are schools really safe?

When we think about school safety our first instinct is physical safety. Sadly, it’s a real concern with the all-too-regular gun shootings and bullying that occurs. However, there’s a far more common and pervasive issue occurring: emotional safety.

Since the industrial revolution, school has been primarily taught in an authoritarian style where kids are judged constantly and relentlessly from academics to behaviors. In addition, teachers and peers use shame and degradation to show their “higher” value or status, which causes additional emotional trauma.

We might think it’ll “toughen kids up,” but given the levels of [emotional] stress kids experience every day, it’s doing far more harm than good. Not to mention, emotional stress changes brain chemistry–especially when you experience this type of regular cortisol release. Kids aren’t spontaneously “going crazy” and “mentally ill” with depression and anxiety; they’re simply trying to survive in their environment.…Read More

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

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.…Read More

Job-related stress threatens the teacher supply

Nearly one in four teachers may leave their job by the end of the current (2020-’21) school year, compared with one in six who were likely to leave prior to the pandemic, according to a new RAND Corporation survey. Teachers who identified as Black or African American were particularly likely to consider leaving.

U.S. public-school teachers surveyed in January and February 2021 reported they are almost twice as likely to experience frequent job-related stress as the general employed adult population and almost three times as likely to experience depressive symptoms as the general adult population.

These results suggest potential immediate and long-term threats to the teacher supply.…Read More

How positive psychology reduces stress and boosts reading comprehension

Learning to read is a higher brain function. Reading comprehension activates the cerebral cortex of a child’s brain. This part of the brain is important for complex cognitive tasks, but it’s also the part of the brain that’s the most sensitive to the harmful effects of stress.

Because stress impairs both learning and memory, teachers can improve reading comprehension and enhance classroom learning by reducing student stress through positive psychology.

The psychology of happiness and learning…Read More

4 positive psychology tactics to help your brain manage stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, you’re not alone. Teachers across America are struggling with unprecedented levels of mental stress. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence conducted a national survey of more than 5,000 U.S. teachers.

When asked to describe their mental health and stress levels, the five most common terms that educators used were “sad,” “overwhelmed,” “anxious,” “fearful,” and “worried.” Thankfully, positive psychology can help you to build your resilience to stress, prevent burnout, improve your overall well-being, and lead to better outcomes in your classroom.

Common sources of mental stress…Read More

How physical stress impacts you and your classroom

Being a teacher was already one of the most stressful occupations in America, even before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered widespread classroom changes and sudden shifts in teaching modalities. The impacts of physical stress in the classroom are widespread and have ramifications that stretch far beyond the classroom.

Educators, along with school administrators, must invest time in social-emotional learning and stress management. Following is some helpful information that can help educators learn about the impact physical stress has on their classrooms.

How stress impacts educators and the classroom…Read More