Why do all teachers need mental health and social work training?

In her first year as a teacher, Stephanie Malia Kraus quickly learned that teaching fifth grade effectively involves a greater variety of skills than she received in her teacher preparation program. It was driven home the day one of his students got soot on his uniform as his rented house burned down the night before and his family struggled to keep their lives together.

“I realized that no one had taught me how to provide therapeutic or even just human aid in a crisis,” she says, noting that such care is essential before effective training can take place. And when the girl’s family looked to Krauss as an authority on what to do, she realized she didn’t know what resources in the community she could offer to help.

Memories of that moment eventually led her to return to school for social work and later to work on a national effort to help students prepare for the workforce. And those experiences have convinced him that there is a need for more “cross-training” for educators—not just how to teach, but how to help students in many areas of their lives.

“Every teacher should have some level of first aid knowledge of child health, social work and mental health,” she told EdSurge. “Because life happens like learning, and we are the trusted adults in these children’s lives. And we want to do right by them, and the kids trust us to know how to take care of them.”

The need for such diverse skills has only become more apparent in recent years, he argues, “in times of political division, racial violence, extreme rhetoric, intensifying hurricanes, mass shootings, economic crises, global pandemics, and more.”

Ed Surge caught up with Krauss to talk about her argument and the challenges of talking about children’s social-emotional needs at a time when some politicians have pushed back on the idea. Kraus is the author of the new book “Whole Child, Whole Life. 10 Ways to Help Children Live, Learn and Thrive.”

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, or use the player on this page. Or read the partial transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.

EdSurge. You say in your book that all teachers should be able to provide “mental health first aid.” Why and what do you mean by that?

Stephanie Malia Kraus. We have to recognize that if we are teaching students or we are an educational leader in the role of an adult in a school, the children are in our care and that they spend so much time in our buildings and they are in our buildings. classrooms, that life happens while they are there. So not only are they learning and getting through the content, but mental health issues will come up during their time at school and over the course of the school year or semester.

And the reality is that our mental health problems in children are showing up earlier and more intensely than we’ve ever seen before. [since the pandemic].

There is a program called Mental Health First Aid, which is a free training that you can bring to your school and young people can be trained in it. They have a high school option.

In the book, I also talk about “care for emotional wounds,” thinking that kids hurt their emotions more than their bodies at school. And how do we put the way we think about brain breaks into real practices? What are the mechanisms of the school day that allow us to provide emotional wound care?

Some of it is just a step up from things like mindfulness, which has become active in the last few years, stopping and checking the breath. How do babies breathe? Can they take a few deep breaths? Do they know how to manage if their breathing is shallow or too fast because of the different emotions involved?

And then there’s emotional hygiene. So we have regular hygiene like brushing your teeth and having opportunities to work through the day to program your social-emotional learning… or counseling opportunities for kids to find out what are the habits that help them feel good and help them prevent. keep things from happening and protect them when bad things happen and be prepared if something difficult happens.

What would you say to the teacher who looks at this and says this is too overwhelming, that it’s too much to ask?

Absolutely, if done alone. I believe this is about the art and science of caring for children, and that all of us in any position, parenting or working with children, need to come together and understand; the children in our care. And so it’s just as important to have a working knowledge and to be a continuous learner ourselves about the nature of childhood, the nature of learning, the nature of health and well-being, and then being in a really open position. work with any adults who are involved with the same children you are involved with, share information and be committed to their well-being together.

Last year, you wrote an op-ed for EdSurge noting that social-emotional learning is becoming an issue in America’s culture wars. Are you concerned that politicians are trying to prevent educators from adopting the advice in your book?

I worry about it. In writing the book, I made a deliberate, presumably political decision to avoid any inflammatory language, specific terms that I have used historically that have been deeply politicized and misunderstood. I don’t think I actually used the phrase social-emotional learning once in the book, but you can look at my EdSurge articles or anything else in my history to know that it’s something I’ve been involved with for a very long time. : . But I made a moral and ethical decision not to dilute the science of what young people need to be healthy and whole, to learn, and to live great lives. And so I wanted to be able to present the science and the research and the stories and the strategies in a way that was accessible to parents, educators, coaches and counselors. So it’s this decision to say that actually we, as people who care for children, have a common set of concerns that we have to deal with together.

To hear the full conversation, listen to the episode.

Source link