Skip to content
ascd logo

Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
December 1, 2010
Vol. 68
No. 4

Among Colleagues / How Can We Make Time to Meet Students' Emotional Needs?

Among Colleagues / How Can We Make Time to Meet Students' Emotional Needs? - thumbnail
Q: My grandmother, Denolis Moore, is a retired teacher. The family recently threw her a 90th birthday party, at which many of her former students talked about how she had helped them get through a personal struggle that hindered their academic performance. My grandmother seemed to work intentionally to develop students' character and academics while meeting their social and emotional needs.
In this different era, teachers face an overwhelming landscape of education initiatives, and we often find it difficult to strike a balance between academic development and meeting our students' social and emotional needs. How do you make time to support your students emotionally, and how has that helped them academically?

Create a Safe Atmosphere

A: Although time is a big issue for us teachers, attending to students' social and emotional needs is not a waste of time, but an investment. If students feel threatened or insecure, learning will be difficult. If we dedicate some time to make students feel that mistakes are part of the learning process, they will understand that we are there to help and not to judge. For students to feel safe in a classroom, teachers must use specific strategies that create the necessary atmosphere—such as regular class meetings in which students can express their concerns.

See Students as Individuals

As a classroom teacher, I had my students complete the following statement on an index card on the first day of the school year: Two things I would like you to know about me as a person are . . . .
I received so much information about family situations, celebrations, learning styles, and likes and dislikes of the young people I worked with. During the year, I would revisit those cards often to remind myself that I had a classroom of individuals.
Over the years, however, I found that the most important way to help my students feel supported was to design meaningful instruction that met their individual needs and challenged them to reach their full potential. Believing in students more than they believe in themselves is an amazing way to contribute to their lifelong emotional and social health.

Establish a Support Network

In our school, we have created a network of administrators, teachers, special education professionals, and counselors who continually share information about our students. By understanding each student's life within the school, I can support the work that my students are doing in their other classes. I can also learn from teachers who have had success with students who are having difficulty in my class.
In the classroom, it's important to give students voice so they become full participants in their education. Meeting students' emotional needs doesn't "just happen" because we care—it requires specific and measurable processes embedded in our work.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

Learn More

ASCD is a community dedicated to educators' professional growth and well-being.

Let us help you put your vision into action.
From our issue
Product cover image 111032.jpg
The Effective Educator
Go To Publication