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Learning to Give Students Grace

Teachers are expected to juggle delivering more content year after year, and they are also responsible for their students’ well-being. It is understandable why some teachers push back against additional social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons. Most teachers simply don’t have the time.

This post is part of a series that highlights themes and takeaways from ResearchILD’s 37th Annual Executive Function Conference: Executive Function & Social-Emotional Learning: Promoting Resilience, Stress Management, and Academic Success. 

Teachers play an important role in students’ lives. Teachers are expected to juggle delivering more content year after year, and they are also responsible for their students’ well-being. It is understandable why some teachers push back against additional social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons. Most teachers simply don’t have the time.

However, presenter after presenter at ResearchILD’s 37th Annual Executive Function Conference made it clear that we are at a place where students cannot learn without explicit SEL lessons. As Rose Delorme Metayer, M.Ed., director of the McCarthy Institute at Boston Latin School, said on the SMARTS School Panel:

I think the biggest thing for me when doing this work is remembering that young people need a lot of grace.

As teachers, how can we give our students grace and the space to make mistakes? How can we teach them to grow from these mistakes while staying on learning goals for the year?

There is no easy solution, but pairing SEL and executive function strategies is a way to start. With explicit executive function strategies, students can learn how to learn more efficiently. They can self-monitor, stay on task, and learn how to reach and set their own goals.

As Ned Hallowell, M.D., child and adult psychiatrist and founder of the Hallowell ADHD Centers, stated,

Kids need hugs, and touch, and expressions of love, and reassurance and you just cannot say it enough. They need daily doses of reassurance.

A teacher can be one person in students’ lives to give them the daily dose of reassurance, the grace to learn, and the space to grow.

And, as teachers, we need to give ourselves grace and reassurance. By making time for ourselves and for reflection, we will be better able to offer our students the support they need to thrive.

  • Tziona Chernoff, SMARTS Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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