How are you? It’s a question you probably ask and get asked frequently. And now as we go through this unprecedented and challenging time in education, this simple greeting has taken on renewed importance as a way of checking in with ourselves and others.
Our heightened concern for how children and youth are doing preceded the pandemic. In the 5th Annual Educator Confidence Report (ECR), a survey of more than 1,000 teachers and administrators published by HMH and YouGov, three-quarters of respondents indicated that the increasing social-emotional needs of their students was their top concern. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made social-emotional learning (SEL) more important than ever—for our students, their families, and ourselves.
Amid the ongoing pandemic and with racial justice issues in the spotlight, what is happening now bolsters the need to ensure that SEL is addressed as part of instructional planning. The resolutions in this blog series are based on what research reveals about what can be done to improve student outcomes for reading.
It is good to know that we can simultaneously promote student well-being and develop reading, writing, and thinking skills. Indeed, addressing SEL in the context of coherence with academics, physical development, and the practice of good citizenship is both efficacious and practical.
Here’s how we can bring reading and SEL together and reach both brains and hearts.
Read for Comfort and Care
Have you noticed how important reading has become as a way to cope with social distancing? Families are reading books together, and I have seen so many wonderful examples of reading to kids as teachers reach out to their students. When reading aloud to students—or recommending books for families to read or for students to read independently—look for variety. Some students will need a laugh, some will need an escape, and some will need information that helps them better understand what’s happening. In all cases, books are helpful tools for self-soothing.
Reading practice provides the opportunity to improve academic outcomes and is time well spent. It can help stem the predicted learning loss caused by interrupted school. Also, reading serves SEL goals by providing time to focus and reflect on one’s self and others.
Students need books to help them better understand the world, especially now, when adults may be lacking for the right words. And while we are facing serious issues, children and youth will also need books that provide an escape, a laugh, or a DIY project.