(Hartford, Conn.) – Today, a new social and emotional learning (SEL) course was announced to help staff in Connecticut’s schools as they navigate unprecedented times of uncertainty and stress, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial, political, and socioeconomic divides.
Developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, in collaboration with the Connecticut State Department of Education, American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, Connecticut Education Association, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and Dalio Education, Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Stress: Research-Based Strategies will provide Connecticut school staff with the knowledge, skills and strategies to understand and manage their emotions and those of their students.
The 10-hour online course is being offered to all Connecticut school staff, including teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, principals, and non-teaching staff in preK-12 schools for free, thanks to the generosity of Dalio Education. Upon completion, school staff will earn a certification from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
John King Jr., President and CEO of the Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education, is facilitating a roundtable discussion about this innovative new effort. Participants provided the following comments:
Governor Lamont: “Addressing the trauma and disengagement experienced by so many students and teachers over the spring semester requires that our school communities are supported with the most effective instructional and behavioral practices and interventions. Study after study shows us that healthy social-emotional development leads directly to an improvement in student academic success and behavioral outcomes to the benefit of both the student and the staff working with them. This course, developed by some of the best in the field of SEL, is a great opportunity for educators and staff to add to the knowledge, skills, and strategies they will need to reengage all students this fall.”
Marc Brackett, Founder and Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author, Permission to Feel: “Research shows that where there is an emotionally skilled adult present, students focus more, disrupt less, and perform better academically. These adults also have lower levels of stress and burnout, fewer intentions to leave the profession, greater job satisfaction, and more engaging classrooms.”
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers: “We are living at a time with no modern precedent: we are in the midst of a health pandemic, an economic recession, and a long overdue reckoning with racism. People are scared, frustrated, and anxious. We need to be able to manage the compounded stress and trauma everyone is experiencing, and this course is a tool do that. The more we can equip our teachers to handle what we’re inevitably going to see in the classroom—in person or remotely—the more we will be able to manage our way through these global crises.”
Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association: “We know that the best learning happens with relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful. The current pandemic crisis has brought into stark relief the inequities many students face, including the need for social and emotional skills that are critical to being a good student and a good citizen. We’re so thankful that the Dalio Foundation is launching this invaluable resource that will help our educators meet their students’ needs regardless of where they learn.”
Barbara Dalio, Founder and Director of Dalio Education: “One of the most important skills to develop during these very stressful times is social emotional learning. We are thrilled to make Connecticut the first state in the country to offer this free to all its teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, and school staff. We especially appreciate the support of Governor Lamont, Commissioner Cardona, Randi Weingarten, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and all of our Connecticut partners.”
Miguel Cardona, Connecticut Commissioner of Education: “Our readiness this fall to tackle Connecticut’s educational emergency revolves around having in place the social emotional learning and mental health supports necessary to create compassionate academic spaces anytime, anywhere. Given the intensity of the trauma, anxiety, and isolation related to the pandemic, our department has prioritized assisting school communities with embedding the most effective social emotional and well-being practices into every aspect of teaching and learning. This professional development course will reinforce efforts to provide all students with equitable access to opportunities to thrive inside and outside of the classroom.”
Jan Hochadel, President of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut: “Our teachers, paraeducators, and support personnel need resources and tools to help address the stress and anxiety of an unprecedented ‘back to school’ season. Helping them with their own ‘self-care’ empowers them to be more responsive to their students. We’re particularly concerned in this uncertain time about the healthy emotion regulation of children with special needs and those struggling with poverty. Their caregivers are often not able to work from home, making engagement in distance learning a greater challenge. Tragically, that also has made them more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. Bottom line — equipping our educators with strategies and support for dealing with their own emotions, as well as those of their students is a ‘win-win.’”
Jeff Leake, President of the Connecticut Education Association: “Strong student-teacher relationships are vital to students' success in school. Those relationships as well as trauma-informed practices will be more critical than ever this fall, as our teachers welcome back students who have faced significant challenges at home, many of them related to the pandemic. The partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence will provide our dedicated teachers with the skills, resources, and knowledge to identify and address student trauma, ensuring students receive all the support they need.”
Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents: “Social and emotional learning is the foundation of a positive district culture in which all students and school staff flourish. It is more important now in these challenging COVID times than it ever has been.”
Jason Adler, School Counselor at Waterford High School and President of the Waterford Federation of Classroom Teachers, AFT Local 2038: “We need to support the social emotional learning of educators so that they may, in turn, create an emotionally supportive environment for their students. A social-emotionally literate teacher is far more capable of creating a safe and nurturing space for their students. This solace is desperately needed by our children in today's world. It will provide them the stability necessary to learn and build their own social emotional resiliency. Education is not (and may never) go back to what it was pre-COVID. This new program is a golden opportunity for teachers and students to make great strides together in this brave new world.”
Erin Daly, Third Grade Teacher, Danbury Public Schools and President of NEA Danbury: “Our dedicated educators understand the importance of a comprehensive approach to addressing student trauma and promoting social-emotional learning, especially in districts like Danbury where the need is high and the budgets for student support services have been decimated. We know that when students return to school they will have greater needs and trauma caused by the pandemic, and will require additional resources and assistance from school counselors, social workers and teachers. This professional learning program will provide educators with the training they need to integrate social emotional learning and trauma-informed instruction into the classroom and promote the well-being of their students.”
For additional information about the course, please visit www.ycei.org/selcourse.