Are the Kids All Right?
If you are a regular follower of Education Canada, you’ll know that the well-being of teachers and staff is one of our core concerns. We’ve had two recent issues focused on staff well-being, and our Well at Work department runs every issue. This is just a part of the EdCan Network’s ongoing Well at Work/Bien dans mon travail initiative, which is supporting education leaders across Canada to develop and implement strategies to improve K-12 workplace well-being for the long term.
In this issue, we turn the well-being lens on students. How are they faring after this difficult and unsettling time? What supports will they need as they return to school? What can be done – at every level of the system – to create healthier, happier school cultures?
Comprehensive School Health (CSH) is an integrated approach that promotes health and wellness throughout the school community, and from the policy level to that of the individual classroom. Check out “Leveraging Pandemic Lessons to Heal,” (p. 16), by Shelly Russell-Mayhew and Kerri Murray, for an introduction to this framework. They point out that our response to the pandemic demonstrated the effectiveness of CSH in a physical health contex. Now, they say, it is time to apply the same framework to schoolwide well-being. Kaitlyn Bailey (“Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice,” p. 26) shows how this looks in one classroom, in a district where social and emotional learning has been given a strong focus.
And there’s much more to read. LJ Slovin shares ways to help gender-nonconforming students feel more comfortable, safe and welcome in school (p. 21). Lauren McNamara and Tracy Vaillancourt (p. 13) argue that the pandemic created a “play loss” that is just as serious a concern as “learning loss,” and that more, and better, recess time is needed to support student well-being and engagement. Louis Volante and colleagues (p. 32) point to recent research revealing that up to 70 percent of children and adolescents “experienced deterioration in at least one of six mental health domains during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and suggest that tracking and addressing student well-being and resilience has become a new imperative.
We’ve packed a lot into this magazine and the web-exclusive articles that accompany it. For our November “issue” we have an exciting new project to present. Read more about it in “Network Voices” (p. 6) – and please do join us in November for the launch!
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First published in Education Canada, September 2021