This article, which was published yesterday, provided another sober reminder of the global demand for social and emotional learning in the classroom. The author opens with her experience working with students on a Native American reservation, which resonated with my experience working as a teacher on a reservation. Then, she provides similar experience from a colleague teaching in China. Violence and emotional trauma abounds worldwide.
As teachers, the more we learn about our students the more appreciation we have for their reliance on us, the adults, to provide a framework for dealing with everything that’s going on in their lives. Sometimes they merely need a sounding board. Other times they need to be referred to a professional.
The Eight Hugs Curriculum can in no way substitute for sound, professional mental health help. Nevertheless, we cannot enter our classrooms without acknowledging the life happening outside their walls. Emotional intelligence cannot be divorced from academic intelligence. By starting the conversation, we, as teachers, are saying:
Your feelings are valid and navigating them is difficult but integral to life success.
Don’t be surprised if that is the first time they’ve heard that message.
Surely, we are not trained to provide counseling support. Instead, I hope that through the lessons on neuroscience we can provide a context for the busyness of their hearts and their brains which will encourage self-exploration instead of self-loathing.