ARP Funds and Systemic Change: Lets Support
By Mark T. Greenberg Ph.D.
Emeritus Bennett Chair of Prevention Science, Penn State University,
Chair of CREATE (www.createforeducation.org)
Even before the Covid Pandemic, teachers faced very challenging situations that have led to high levels of burnout with many teachers and administrators leaving the profession across the world. Even under the best conditions, teaching is a highly demanding profession. Given the pressure on teachers, don’t you find it surprising that teacher wellness has not become a central policy issue.
In addition, research shows that teacher’s own social and emotional competence and well-being influences student behavior and achievement. In fact, the 2018 National Commission shined a spotlight on the importance of adult SEL.
If there was ever a time, need, and opportunity to support teachers it is now! In fact, the ARP funds supports districts to focus on teacher well-being as an area for priority funding. Further, CASEL recommends that supporting teacher’s well-being should be one of the three highest priorities for district’s use of ARP funds.
There are now a number of evidence-based Adult SEL Programs that have been carefully studied in randomized trials and two of the most prominent, CARE and CALM are recommended as potential teacher interventions in the CASEL School Guide. These programs have been shown to improve teacher well-being, their enjoyment of teaching, and to lower burnout and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Programs have also shown effects on the quality of classroom instruction, and positive effects on physiological indicators of teacher health (lowering cortisol and blood pressure).
The fact that evidence-based Adult SEL programs have led to such broad improvements should be of great interest to administrators, school boards, and unions – all of whom are deeply invested in teachers being well and successful. Isn’t our goal to retain and improve the competency of our teachers to support student’s educational success? Yet, high-quality professional development for teachers focused on their own social and emotional competence is still a rare event.
If we are to improve outcomes for students, we must focus on the lives of teachers. We can reduce burnout and attrition and increase instructional equality by focusing on both student and adult SEL, reforming teacher education, and creating systemic change at the school level to increase support for teachers. If we are to take seriously the task of supporting teacher’s well-being, the time is now!