Ruth Ayres hosts a link-up every week in order to celebrate all the great happenings. You can find other celebrations at Discover. Play. Build.
This week I am celebrating a renewed focus on the social and emotional well being of students and teachers in my district. During the first day orientation, both district administrators and school administrators spoke about the importance of fostering the social and emotional development of our students. At the first staff meeting, the principal and assistant principal spoke about ways to provide breaks for students in the classroom and to relieve stress for students. There was also mention of teachers’ well being and reminders from my assistant principal to take care of ourselves and to find time to give ourselves a break when it’s needed. An academic push, the need to improve literacy and math test scores, has overshadowed the social and emotional needs of students for quite a while. The principal at my school explained that school superintendents throughout the state have been discussing this and are finding a need to reduce stress for students. For the past few years, there has been an intense focus on accountability, assessment data, and the state test in my district. This has been evident in the amount of testing students are exposed to in the first week of school and throughout the remainder of the school year. Teachers in my district must follow an assessment calendar. For the first time in a few years, there were not any tests scheduled for the first few days of school. I believe we are taking steps to be more conscious of students’ well being and responsive to the academic pressures placed on students. On the first day of school I asked a student about the first day. His response was, “It was awesome! Double awesome!” This enthusiasm and love of school is as important to foster as academics. The hope is that students will continue to have this enthusiasm and love for the remainder of the school days.