Teachers are finding out how to help students handle stress, and helping students achieve emotional and academic success.
At Powel Elementary School in Philadelphia, fourth graders listened to counselor Pam Bunyon as she showed them an outline of a human head. She was explaining some new words, such as amygdala, cortex and brain stem.
Bunyon was using science to show students that their impulses have a physical basis. She was working with them to find strategies to deal with their impulses “So we don’t flip out.”
At South Philadelphia High School, Amy Edelstein us setting up a mindfulness class, where students learn to enhancectheir ability to focus, control anger, and deal with conflict with peers through talk instead of fight. They too are learning how their brains function.
The school district has been encouraging teachers to help students become insulated from stress and theceffects of trauma through “protective factors”, which help them feel empowered and in control. These include classes, but can also include expressive activities, such as music, art, recess and sports.
Bunyon and Edelstein are part of the School District’s stepped-up efforts to insulate students with what are known as “protective factors” in mental and behavioral health circles – activities that help young people feel empowered and in control. Those factors include classes like these, but also a range of activities where they can express themselves or work off energy, including music and art, recess and sports.