Covid-19 has caused trauma and stress for students and teachers alike, and a new course from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence aims to help educators care for their own well-being so they can better support their students.
During a virtual roundtable this morning to announce the new certificate program, which is being offered free of charge to all Connecticut school staff thanks to a grant from the Dalio Foundation, CEA President Jeff Leake said that the course will offer teachers the skills, resources, and knowledge to identify and address student trauma, ensuring students receive all the support they need.
“We need to focus on rebuilding our strategy tool box,” said third grade teacher and NEA Danbury president Erin Daly. “We need effective coping strategies to meet the needs of the students in our classrooms.”
CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, a school social worker, said, “This is what it looks like to change teaching and learning. We need to invest in educators so that educators can then support kids and their emotions and be there for them.”
The Yale course is drawing national attention, and NEA President Lily Eskelsen García and AFT President Randi Weingarten both took part in the roundtable discussion.
“We have been trying to get 49 other states to realize how important this is,” Eskelsen García said. “This isn’t the softer side of education. This is essential. This if fundamental.”
She continued, “We’re going to open schools when and where it’s safe. The first thing when we’re back, before reading, writing, and arithmetic, will be dealing with the trauma these kids have gone through. We can’t skip that step.”
Jason Adler, a school counselor at Waterford High School and president of the Waterford Federation of Classroom Teachers, said “Teachers will give of themselves until it hurts. I hope everyone who participates, including me, will use the strategies to find better balance in their lives. As teachers we need to give ourselves a break and recognize we can’t be all things to all people.”
Marc Brackett, founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, said that the 10-hour course will cover a little bit of theory, a little bit of science, and a whole lot of practical theory.
“Our hope is that it will really make a difference in supporting educators and helping them manage their stress and anxiety,” he said.