As teachers prepare to head back to school this year, it is valuable to prepare for the level of trauma that individual teachers may be called upon to hold. The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center indicates that trauma “results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.” From the economic strain and complex traumas induced by the COVID-19 pandemic to those resulting from racist violence, students and teachers are returning to the classroom with a heavy emotional load. With all that educators will be asked help students face, it is a great time to cultivate a strong foundation of social-emotional learning (SEL) and trauma-informed teaching methodology.
Amid the traumas and upheavals sweeping our communities over the last many months, education leaders everywhere have been urging schools to center social-emotional learning (SEL) this fall. Whether one’s coursework will be conducted online, in person, or through a hybrid format, SEL is a foundation of effective teaching in the best of times and a vital lifeline in times of difficulty. In these times, it is crucial that educators come equipped with an educational plan that begins with nurturing adolescents’ sense of community and connection at school. And it is also crucial that educators come prepared to acknowledge the diverse array of experiences that community members are bringing back into the classroom. The demands of teaching don’t always allow educators to take a deep dive into the how’s and why’s of SEL but there’s never been a better time to do so. Here’s what educators need to know about this essential framework this year.
Guest blogger, Clara Ramírez-Barat, shares how a two-year research project with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is exploring innovative strategies to engage young people in justice and peace-building efforts through education. Facing History’s international director, Karen Murphy, has played a lead role in this emerging field. She wrote a case study for that project and previously teamed up with ICTJ to develop a children’s guide to the Kenyan Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to help youth address complex parts of their country’s history.
Facing History was recently recommended as a proven social-emotional learning (SEL) program. Out of 400 nominations, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) chose Facing History and eight other approaches to include in its new guide to effective middle and high school social and emotional learning programs. Only Facing History and one other program were chosen in both the middle and high school categories.
Through SEL, students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.