By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe
There’s been a lot of talk over the past year about the “learning loss” K-12 students may have suffered as a result of the switch to remote learning, but it is also important to shine a spotlight on the toll it may have taken on their social and emotional development and health. A 2021 survey of teachers by the financial services company, Horace Mann, revealed that 52 percent reported significant disruption to student social-emotional learning (SEL) due to the pandemic. A majority of educators estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional growth.*
As educators plan for the full reopening of schools for the 2021-2022 school year, they will, of course, be focused on strategies for mitigating any learning loss students may have suffered. In addition, they will also be looking for ways to ensure students recover from losing social emotional growth and get on track to thrive in a face-to-face learning environment. In fact, funds from the nearly $270 billion dollars that the federal government allocated for Coronavirus relief for education can be used to support students SEL needs.
As educators work to meet the numerous challenges that will come with reopening 100 percent, here are some ways you might help them develop strategies for supporting SEL:
- Ask educators now about the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on their students’ SEL and how you can help. Listen and connect them with resources to come up with solutions to meet those needs so they can hit the ground running in the fall. Also, remember to check in on how educators are doing! The last year has likely had an impact on their social emotional health and often just being asked if you are okay and told how much you are appreciated can make people feel better
- If you offer an SEL solution, think creatively about the best way that you can provide it to schools so that they can quickly and easily implement it for back to school. Consider providing complimentary professional development for teachers or on-demand support during the school year.
- Develop a tip sheet or other guide that provides teachers with ideas for integrating SEL activities into your already existing product or curriculum.
- Offer a webinar or other professional learning opportunity on the topic with an expert — maybe in collaboration with other education companies. Participation in webinars spiked over the past year as educators are seeking information to help them deal with the new challenges they are facing.
- While your company may not specifically offer tools for building social emotional health, consider partnering with another education company that does. MDR did a study of the demand for SEL resources for schools a few years ago which revealed companies who provide schools with academic instructional resources benefit from exploring partnerships with developers of SEL curricula and incorporating SEL topics and goals into academic texts and activities.
With plans for full reopening of schools for the 2021-2022 school year, there is light at the end of the tunnel for all of us in the education community. Together, we can ensure that the future will be brighter than ever before!
*Closing the Learning Gap: How frontline educators want to address lost learning due to COVID-19
Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications
Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.