At this time last year, my discussion with area principals and school districts about social-emotional learning in schools was not so urgent. It was important, maybe even trendy, or the newest education buzzword thanks to Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education. In Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, social-emotional learning is one of four equal learning domains supporting Ohio’s goal of preparing each student in Ohio for postsecondary life. 

However, within just a couple of weeks of the plan’s release, the coronavirus made its way into the homes and lives of every child, teacher, and administrator in the country. This upended the safety and routines that we, and especially our school-aged children, have come to rely upon. For our children, the impact of the disruption was especially disheartening. Children who were once fed, loved, and cared for at school, no longer had the security and surety that the school day provides. Even though teachers are working twice as hard to provide this same virtual environment for children during this pandemic, we know that it can never replace the face-to-face interaction and connection with other children, teachers, counselors, and countless other school personnel that so many of our children need. 

Before the pandemic was ever a thing, Mind Body Align surveyed our area teachers and administrators to capture their views on SEL, as well as ask about their levels of stress in the classroom.  We learned that 89% of our respondents experience a great deal of stress related to being an educator or administrator. During the pandemic, this same percentage rose to 100% of teachers and administrators reporting high levels of stress. To help teachers get through these times of uncertainty and fear, it is imperative that administrators invest in and adopt the MBAwareness Educational Program to aid in taking care of students’ social and emotional well-being.

Teaching social-emotional learning in the classroom, even virtually, is as easy as ever with the MBAwareness Mindful Classroom Program. One of our certified mindful SEL instructors works directly with the children and the teacher in the classroom, providing hands-on practice with the skills of paying attention, focus and emotion regulation. All these are qualities that are necessary for a child’s success in school and in life. The curriculum includes 16 age-appropriate lessons cultivating the universal qualities of kindness, compassion, gratitude, generosity, and many more. Classes are the perfect 15 minutes in length, supporting the need for engagement and for focused academic time in the classroom. The program lasts for 8 weeks, allowing the teachers and students the right amount of opportunity to learn and practice the social-emotional techniques that will enable them to transfer it into all areas of daily life, and to commit it to habit, eventually accessing the techniques without the aid of instruction.

The virus will slow its spread someday, and life in school will return to what it used to be. But during this time of social distancing and isolation, this conversation about the need for SEL and the MBAwareness program is more relevant than ever before, and if students and teachers don’t learn how to deal with their emotions, fear, and sense of loss, they will stay in a constant mode of fight and flight. If the brain is in fight and flight mode, it is not in learning and remembering mode, and no amount of digital, hybrid or in-person learning will be successful.

We may not need to have the conversation, because it is reflected above. Now let’s have the easier one. Let’s talk about bringing it into your school as a strategic, and essential program.