How grown ups can support the transition to school life
The Rise of the K-shaped Recovery: Why American Schools are Rethinking? What is Missing from the Second Coronavirus Pandemic?
The coronavirus caused the biggest disrupt in the history of American education.
Shrinking enrollments. In the first full academic year of the pandemic, K-12 public school enrollment fell by 1.1 million students, and fell by about an additional 130,000 students the following fall. Students leaving for private schools and switches to home-schooling caused 26 percent of the decline according to new research. Some of the decline is hard to track, like the 34% of it, as some students might have gone to home-school, opting out of kindergarten, or even going to class late. (A declining school-age population explains the rest.) In the years ahead, enrollments, and the funding streams that go with them, will most likely decline further as birthrates fall.
There is surging inequality. As Robin Lake and Travis Pillow write in a Brookings Institution article, “American students are experiencing a K-shaped recovery, in which gaps between the highest- and lowest-scoring students, already growing before the pandemic, are widening into chasms.”
Parents, of course, are aware of these new realities and have begun to adjust their thinking. Historically, voters have trusted Democrats more on education. But, as Nat Malkus pointed out in National Affairs, by 2022 Republicans were as trusted as Democrats by voters, if not more so.
Parents are rethinking, but the nation’s leaders seem unaware. The statistics that I mentioned make me think that education is one of the most talked about topics in America right now. You would think that President Biden would be offering comprehensive plans to reform American schooling. The governors and the mayors should be leading newscasts and the magazine covers should be adorned with their pictures on a weekly basis.
How Disconcerting Are Long Covid and Reinfections? Zeynep Tufekci, a Public Health Critic
How concerning are things like long covid and reinfections? That’s a difficult question to answer definitely, writes the Opinion columnist Zeynep Tufekci, because of the lack of adequate research and support for sufferers, as well as confusion about what the condition even is. She has suggestions for how to solve the problem. A man states that there has yet to be a variant that negates the benefits of vaccines.
How will the virus continue to change? The group of scientists who study viruses says there’s no reason it won’t evolve in the future.
What could endemic Covid look like? 100,000 Americans could die from the coronaviruses a year, according to David Wallace Wells. Stopping that will require a creative effort to increase and sustain high levels of vaccination. New vaccines that can be delivered through the nose may be part of the answer according to Akiko Iwasaki.
Every day, Draughn greets the students in the hallway with a cup of coffee in her hand. About 350 of them, she knows all their names.
Kids want to feel loved and know they are appreciated. One way we can do that is to greet them by name. It is shown in the research that helps build a positive culture.
The Teacher’s Choice Award: Reestablishing Structure and Exploring Student Emotions During Pre-Kirch Malad, the First Elementary School Day of the Pandemic
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) named Draughn the school counselor of the year in the nation’s state with the best elementary school. The selection committee praised Draughn’s data-driven approach and passion for her students.
The award comes at a pivotal moment for Draughn, who has been in the middle of the most normal season since the Pandemic began. A declaration of an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency is expected in May, and masks are optional in most schools.
Children are still reeling from what happened during the P-amplitude. Many students have struggled with mental health, academics and a general lack of connection to their classroom. All things Draughn has seen in her school, too. She claims there is an upside to all those challenges.
She likes to make goals big or small for students, like being respectful or following directions. She begins the day with a “check-in,” where students share what they’d like to accomplish, and ends it with a “check-out” to see if they met their goals.
And habits can help give students a sense of control. Lack of control is what Draughn says young people struggle with and can lead to big feelings.
“So it’s just reteaching what we can do when we don’t have control over something and how we regain control and regulation over our own feelings and emotions.”
Students are asked to distinguish between things outside their control and things that they have the power to change during exercises like the circles of control. If the source of frustration is outside a child’s control, she redirects their focus to something else that is in their control to help them feel empowered.
Draughn says giving students a sense of control, like reestablishing structure, can lead to better self-regulation, as well as other benefits.
Like a number of districts across the country, Draughn says hers is continuing to combat elevated levels of chronic absenteeism, which is when students miss 10% or more of the school year. She says reintroducing school as a part of the daily routine can help students feel more connected to the classroom. Children gain a sense of belonging that improves attendance and sets them up for success in later grades.
Children play with behavior, that’s nothing new. But Draughn says if educators or parents are dealing with particularly challenging behaviors, it’s essential to pay attention to the story those actions might be telling.
Draughn suggests that a child caught stealing food from a other student could do it again. Rather than place blame, Draughn looks to what that behavior might tell her about the child’s life outside of school.
“What is that behavior indicating? Sometimes that is an indication that basic needs are not being met. That is our first question. It wasn’t ‘Why did you steal?’
Children often behave in attention-seeking ways, and that’s also true when they’re acting out. One way of encouraging positive behavior is to celebrate the things that you do.
Recognizing and meeting a child’s unique sensory needs is another way to reward them. Maybe they can’t focus on a piece of information while wearing clothes that are uncomfortable and a pencil against a desk. Draughn once had a student who regularly acted out in P.E. – it turned out the seam at the toe-line of his socks was an uncomfortable sensory experience for him.
How to Help Children With Anxiety: Using Exercise and Breathing Exercises to Make Life Feel More Simplified and Difficult
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association were among organizations that urged President Biden to declare a national emergency in children’s mental health. Their letter cites a “troubling” growth in the number of young children diagnosed with anxiety and other disorders.
Draughn says she’s seen an increase in anxiety referrals since the swine flu started. She thinks that the heightened awareness of mental health is to blame. Students have been anxious for a long time, now they have a name for it.
She says helping children understand what anxiety is, and how their body responds to it, is a good first step to addressing it. She tells them that they have some physical symptoms. Another tell-tale sign is a stomach-ache.
When she’s intervening with an anxious child, Draughn uses kid-friendly words to describe what they’re experiencing, like “extra energy.” Then, she finds ways for her students to expend or redirect that energy, like through exercise or simply allowing them to fidget.
If children feel too anxious or uncomfortable to get up and move, she suggests slowing things down with breathing exercises. You can ask a child to breathe in as though they’re smelling a flower, and breathe out as though they’re blowing out a candle. Draughn also likes to use a method called “4 x 4 breathing.” She asks students to envision a square and breathe along each of its lines: “You’re going to breathe for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out through your mouth for 4 seconds, hold for four seconds. You do that four times.
Another strategy for when life feels overwhelming to children is to make it feel more bite-sized. “When we look at it as a whole day, or hour or a whole class, it can get really daunting,” Draughn says. She asks students to choose an activity or task that is doable in a few minutes.