With yet another school year being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, educators are bound to be on edge. That means the social-emotional learning (SEL) we’re planning to provide students is also a must for teachers and other local education agency employees.

A 2019 Education Week survey found that 78% of teachers feel it is part of their job to help students develop strong SEL skills, but only 40% feel they have adequate solutions and strategies to do so. After having to learn an entirely new way to teach last year, concerns about safeguarding their own and their families’ health, as well as conflicts with parents over reopening policies, teachers need access to mental health resources as much as students do.

So how can we give the adults in schools the help they need to at least alleviate some of the stressors and thrive? A report from the Southern Education Foundation, “Teacher Stress and Burnout: The High Cost of Low Social and Emotional Development,” provides four key recommendations:

  1. Passionate, new educators need as much, if not more, support than their colleagues. Help them get the skills they need to thrive early and remain in their jobs.
  2. Be wary of monetary attendance incentives. They might not provide the payoff you think. Instead, they may make educators feel like they have to work while fatigued and stressed, leading to burnout and resignations.
  3. Don’t assume you have a pulse on the mental health and well-being of educators and staff. Take surveys or try other forms of feedback that highlight areas of stress and ways to alleviate it.
  4. At a minimum, 20% of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds must be used by districts to employ SEL interventions that mitigate lost instruction time. Consider how teacher development could be factored into those strategies. ESSER funds also could be used to find solutions that help combat teacher shortages.