Teaching Profession

Social-Emotional Learning Is Important for Teachers, Too

By Madeline Will — June 29, 2017 2 min read
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There’s been a push for developing social-emotional competencies among students, but what about the teachers? Experts say self-care and emotional health is critical for educators—but often overlooked.

In a special report by Education Week Teacher, my colleagues and I reported on the research surrounding teacher stress, how social-emotional learning can be incorporated into everyday lessons, and innovative ways to fight teacher burnout. Teachers also shared their strategies for focusing on feelings in the classroom, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and reaching different groups of students.

And now, in a virtual roundtable, five educators share their thoughts on how teachers can develop their own social-emotional skills.

  • Teacher stress isn’t an epidemic, it’s a pandemic, writes kindergarten teacher Danna Thomas, who is also the founder of the support group Happy Teacher Revolution. “Teachers [crave] the opportunity to come together: to share, empathize, listen, and feel heard. When communities come together, we find strength in one another and the inspiration to continue to make positive change.”
  • It’s especially important for teachers to take time to prioritize their own mental health and wellness. Teachers are “master problem-solvers who are working in a profession that breeds resourcefulness in spades. Still, we rarely like to admit our own failure. We especially struggle to admit that failure over something as amalgamous and, unfortunately, stigmatized as mental health,” Teacher blogger Christina Torres writes.
  • That’s why it’s important for teachers to talk with each other about the highs and lows of teaching and “be humans together,” Teacher blogger John T. McCrann writes. And he says that starts with professional development opportunities.
  • After all, happy teachers lead to happy students. That’s why we need to focus on emotional and social intelligence for teachers, Fredrick Scott Salyers writes. “The teachers that students remember and learn from the most typically are the ones who empathize with and persevere alongside their students.”
  • All of this is important work for district leaders to encourage and carve out space for, administrator Michael Gallagher writes. “We have seen that attention to the social-emotional needs of adults leads to productive, happier teachers who enjoy their colleagues and their time at work.”

Read the full roundtable discussion. And check out our collection of stories on teacher self-care and wellness in this special report: Social-Emotional Learning: It Starts With Teachers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.