St. Louis Schools have added two “social emotional” teachers to the staff who will work with elementary-age children at Carrie Knause and Nikkari starting in September.
Current teacher Pamela Hanson-Bender has changed her specialty to social emotional teacher at Nikkari, while Tiffany LaBlance was just hired to perform the same function at Carrie Knause.
“We will have two social emotional teachers that will be teaching life skills such as coping skills, perseverance, motivation, positive mindset, how to work in a group, strategies to help self regulation, strategies to calm down, how to ask for help, etc.,” said Superintendent Kristi Teall in an email. “Basically there are four areas that are focused on at the elementary level: Skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving. There are four different areas that are focused on at the secondary level: Mindsets and goals, values and friendships, thoughts, emotion and decisions, and serious peer conflict.”
Teall continues: “There are many behaviors that can be taught. It will be our job to teach our students those behaviors. Of course, students can be seen individually also if that is necessary or a request from a parent. These positions will also help when students are in crisis. I do not know if other districts have had success with such teachers, but the curriculum we will be using is an evidence-based model that has shown incredible results with students. The skills that will be taught will be for everyone. All students can benefit from these life skills at any time in their lives. We are looking to support three areas: Emotion management, situational awareness and academic achievement. Even as adults, we can always benefit from life coaching to better ourselves.”
Social emotional problems make it difficult for teachers and students alike, Teall said. “Behaviors that are getting in the way of teaching and learning are: 1. Missing some skills to learn, such as attention, listening, being respectful, moving on from mistakes, motivation, perseverance and goal setting. 2. Lack of understanding in how to manage emotions such as disappointment, anger, patience, feeling worried and challenging relationships. 3. Difficulty with problem solving or poor decision making. 4. Struggling with handling conflict in all areas. We have already seen some nice results during the 2017-18 school year as our kindergarten teachers implemented this curriculum. It is now time to take it district wide to support all kids.”