How is the 2022- 2023 school year going? Ask any teacher, counselor, principal, or district leader- and many will give the same response, “It is a tough year!” A National Center for Education Statistics survey found that 56% of school administrators think the pandemic has increased student misbehavior.
Why Is This Happening?
As an administrator, I have been in many student disciplinary meetings with families. One meeting stands clear in my mind. As I began to talk about their child’s behavior, a parent stopped me and told me, “Don't you dare blame this behavior on the pandemic.” That sentence stopped me and caused me to rethink the increased negative behaviors exhibited on campus. I came to the realization that the pandemic itself did not cause increased misbehavior. Academically and socially, students fell behind. Despite returning to in-person learning almost two years ago, misbehavior has only increased.
What Can Be the Solution?
The pandemic shook up the rhythm of our lives. Overnight, students who once were together in the classroom were separated from their peers, and their only means of connection were on a computer screen. This is not how we, as humans, are meant to learn and to work with others. “Human beings are wired to connect – and we have the most complex and interesting social behavior out of all animals,” said Michael Platt, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “This social behavior is a critical part of our adaptive toolkit. It allows us to come together and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”
Thinking of that adaptive toolkit, educators must introduce practices that will support our students–Whole Child Education. For example, as opposed to focusing only on students' academic achievements, the whole-child approach focuses on their well-being beyond the classroom. Rather than just focusing on academic preparation, this pedagogy emphasizes the importance of preparing students for the future. In whole-child education, students are encouraged to become well-rounded, productive members of society who can deal with everyday challenges in a healthy manner.
What Does a Whole Child Classroom Look Like?
The teacher's role in the Whole Child Approach is to encourage students to grow in every area of their lives. As a whole child, you will find curiosity, creativity, empathy, and confidence in them.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curricuculum Development, A whole child classroom has the following tenants:
The whole child approach to learning necessitates modifying the educational process and the classroom environment to address and strengthen the social emotional learning of the students, ultimately producing a generation of self-assured students who have developed holistically.
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Răducu, C. M., & Stănculescu, E. (2022). Personality and socio-demographic variables in teacher burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic: a latent profile analysis. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 14272.