TEACHER VOICE: In a post-pandemic world, we must pay more attention to emotions

By Andrea Jemmott

Two years ago, I learned a new word for what happens when someone simultaneously feels multiple emotions. “Scribble” is what happens when feelings like happiness, nervousness, anxiousness and confusion collide within a person at the same time.

I’m familiar with scribble in my own life. Scribble is a good description of the way many of us feel after more than two years living in a pandemic. As an adult, I have the emotional intelligence to manage it.

Yet as things return to normal, teachers like me face new challenges regarding student mental health. Can you imagine what scribble feels like to a five-year-old? What are the odds they will be able to do anything other than cry or have a tantrum at that moment?

Enter social and emotional learning (SEL). As a kindergarten teacher, I believe social and emotional learning is valuable for changing the climate and culture of the classroom.

SEL helps teachers in tough situations because of its focus on social and emotional competencies. There are five areas of SEL, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, a network of researchers, educators, practitioners and child advocates. They include self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making and relationship skills.

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