Written by Ashlee Bruggenschmidt, Principal, Sharon Elementary School
2019-2020 IN Elementary Principal of the Year
From stay at home orders, daily data displayed on COVID-19 illness and death rates in the media, and of course the scare of reopening schools, SEL (Social Emotional Learning) has moved from a “nice to do” to a “MUST DO” in preparing for the student and staff return to school. Whatever the reentry to school is, the social emotional well being of each child has to be considered before any academic advancements or remediation take hold.
With schools reopening in the middle of a pandemic we need to model resilience over fear. Building relationships is now more important than ever before. We must set the tone IMMEDIATELY that we are ready to answer this call…We Are Resilient! This is our opportunity to shape a new generation of resilient learners that will impact our country for years to come. Our messaging to staff and the community should put an emphasis on resilience and grit while acknowledging our vulnerability. Teachers must have grit and perseverance to be resilient so they can model and teach resilience to our students. Teacher self care is paramount during this time. Without stamina, grit and resilience, our schools and communities will cave to the negative pressures and fall further behind with an increase in mental health needs for all involved.
As Elizabeth Edwards said, “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” Schools need to work together to create something that is good for our students, staff, and communities in this time of uncertainty.
If you haven’t checked out the IDOE documents on social emotional learning, I highly recommend them. They have sample lesson plans to help teach our students and staff about resiliency, grit, self care and regulating their emotions. If you would like more information or sample SEL lesson plans we are utilizing, please let me know. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.