Principal - May/June 2021 - 46

THE

SEL Spot

Distress Signals
Teachers are more anxious, fearful, and worried during the
pandemic, and it's up to principals to help them maintain
mental wellness
BY VICTORIA E. ROMERO

I

n 2018, nearly 500,000 teachers in nine states walked out
of their classrooms in the middle of the year, making it the
largest worker strike ever recorded in the United States.
Salaries, benefits, and class sizes were major issues, but
this time, those were not the only concerns. For the first time,
teachers acknowledged they could not adequately meet the
social and emotional needs of their students. Their demands
included a call for more school counselors and nurses.
Educators walking out in the middle of a school year and
asking for support from mental health specialists was a
red flag for me as a consultant, former teacher, and former
principal. Generally, educators don't strike in February.

*

46

M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 * N A E S P. O R G

What did this suggest about the
well-being of teachers in general and,
in particular, about the brave men and
women on the picket lines carrying
signs reading " Enough Is Enough " ?
I found answers in two surveys
conducted by the Yale Center for
Emotional Intelligence. In spring 2017,
nearly 7,000 educators working in
public and independent schools were
asked to describe the three most
frequent emotions they felt every
day at school. The top three emotions among public school teachers
were frustrated, overwhelmed, and
stressed, while teachers in independent schools felt frustrated, joyful/
happy, and excited.
Researchers Marc Brackett and
Christina Cipriano conducted a similar
survey in March 2020 to see how
teachers were managing emotionally
during the onset of the coronavirus
pandemic. In three days, more than
5,000 respondents said they were


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Principal - May/June 2021

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