By: Claudia Belmonte
The socioemotional health of teachers has been an increasing area of research within the past decade. The emotional well-being of teachers is so important because it directly relates to both teaching effectiveness and student engagement for learning. In addition, it has been reported that teachers experience considerable stress and a variety of negative mental health outcomes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is important to ensure that teachers are supported emotionally, as well as professionally to ensure student success.
In response to this need, the Fordham Professional Development Resource Center (PDRC) where I am currently doing my Graduate Student internship, has strived to offer webinars and online sessions tailored to teacher and administrator social emotional well being. Given the importance of the issues and my own interest as a graduate student with a Counseling major, this work offered me the opportunity to research and study the impact that these professional opportunities had in teaching and learning.
In one of our sessions given by Dr. Amelio D’Onofrio, we were reminded that we should not consider ourselves weak or at fault because of stress. “Stress is a by-product of the care-intensive work that teachers do every day.” When we recognize, accept and acknowledge the problem, that’s when real healing and resilience begins.
To that purpose, and for the past two years, I worked alongside the staff of the PDRC and eventually submitted an article for publication consideration. Teachers sought professional development to care about their own mental health, and detailed how the intersection of SEL made the teaching practice more meaningful.
The article entitled “Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Teachers and Its Impact on the Teaching Practice” had as one of its goals, not only to have my writing published, but also to show how teachers’ socioemotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic was necessary and schools may see the need to offer professional development to teachers that incorporates holistic self-care strategies and mental health related training. I was able to achieve my vision for this article with the help of my colleagues and co-authors, Dr. Shana Eutsay and Jorge Estrella. In addition, Roser Salavert and Yoel Jorge supported and oversaw the process. I am so grateful that this article has been accepted for publishing by the Journal of Cultural and Educational Studies.
We begin by discussing the existing research on the topic, and then move to discuss the Fordham PDRC’s efforts in supporting teachers and administrators. Some of our planned webinars and sessions that pertained to the socioemotional health of teachers were as follows: Self-Care Practices for Teachers, Making Meaning in Chaotic Times, and Leading Today’s Schools: Observing and Supporting Teachers in a New Classroom Landscape. In addition, we collected data on participant resonance and satisfaction through the use of post-attendance surveys. Open ended questions were used to gather how participants felt about our webinars where they were encouraged to be in touch with their emotions and prioritize their self-care practices moving forward.
We also incorporated research about holistic work environments and ways to make the teaching practice more meaningful. Our findings found that teachers agreed that self-care is important. Even with the many things happening around them, time should be set aside to reset. They learned that they are not alone feeling this way and it’s okay to say, ”No, I am not okay.” Based on all of our collective findings, we were able to formulate a variety of conclusions and suggestions for practice.
As of today, we are still adapting to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and should strive to promote the well being of teachers in our field and practice.
We encourage you to read the article and learn how we emphasize the importance of teachers’ socioemotional health, and incorporate our own data and suggestions.
Here is a link to the article.