Teaching Is a Work of Heart

The National PTA says it best, “The pandemic has ushered in a new way of teaching and learning. From in-person to virtual to a hybrid learning environment (some all in one school year!), our students have faced challenging, yet innovative times in their learning and development—and teachers have been at the heart of it all!”

America’s schools – and their teachers – are still overcoming the setbacks of the pandemic. One does not have to look far to see that teachers are leaving the profession in droves, teacher attrition is at a fever-pitch, and we are seeing fewer students enrolling in teacher-preparation programs (Will, 2021). Conditions in the education field have always trended toward demanding, but today they’re a recipe for burnout—which teachers experience almost twice as much as other government employees (Perna, 2022, para 3). While these tremendous pressures may never be completely eradicated, there are ways in which we can alleviate some of the stressors and factors that contribute to burn-out. One of these ways is through adult social and emotional learning skills and capacity building.

By shifting from a strictly student-centered approach to professional development to an all-encompassing understanding of both adult and student SEL, we create an opportunity for teachers to learn how to manage the stressors of the classroom, reduce feelings of burnout, and support feelings of preparedness and satisfaction.

When a teacher’s social emotional competence is high, they can model and impart those skills and abilities to their students. We know from our practice that SEL is not isolated to a classroom or the children within it; rather SEL purposefully, and by-design, includes adults with its framework (Hamilton & Doss, 2020; Schonert-Reichl, 2017; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009;).

The message is clear: for social emotional learning to be effective and integrated within the context of whole-school implementation, adults must be included in the development and application of social emotional learning. Let’s do more than just appreciate teachers, let’s recognize the emotions they manage and give them real strategies and resources to feel respected.

Teaching is indeed a work of heart. Join me and the EduSolve team in thanking a teacher.

The developing federal budget is a quiet win for needed programs

As states and school districts begin to think about life after ESSER, the current bipartisan government spending agreement is poised to increase federal education spending. In K12 it provides $45 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion over the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, for K-12 and special education programs.

Here are some highlights:

Formula Funding

Title I is set for a 5% increase or roughly $850M. Be on the lookout for changing allocations based on pandemic-related enrollment and population shifts.

IDEA and Special education will realize a much-needed increase of $934 million, for a total of $15.5 billion.

Competitive Funding

Full Service Community Schools that positions school campuses as community hubs grows to $150 million.

21st Century Community Learning Centers program would see $1.3 billion under the bill, an increase of $40 million above fiscal year 2022 funding levels.

Project AWARE is a mental health and wellness program designed to identify and help children and youth who need mental health care as part of funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This grant will see a $12M increase, well timed considering the ongoing youth mental health crisis documented by HHS and the Surgeon General.

Edu.Solve recommends three important considerations to make now, ahead of an approved federal budget:

  1. Plan now. Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to document the current need and organize your plan with community partners.
  2. Consider competitive grants as part of your ESSER “step back plan”.
  3. Consider the ROI and LOI of what worked well in reopening and protect those resources from budget cuts.

For more information on comprehensive needs assessments or step back planning, contact me at Edu-Solve.com


The 2022 snapshot that reveals a trend of increased diagnoses of anxiety and depression

The effects of COVID-19 pandemic are coming to light, confirming what educators and administrators have experienced on their campuses and across their districts: increased need for mental health awareness, interventions, and services.

The Surgeon General calls this a Youth Mental Health Crisis and warns that young people are facing “devastating” mental health effects as a result of the challenges experienced by their generation, including the coronavirus pandemic.

The report cites significant increases in self-reports of depression and anxiety along with more emergency room visits for suicide attempts, which rose 51 percent for adolescent girls in early 2021 as compared to the same period in 2019.

A Health & Human Services (HHS)[1] sponsored study, published in the Journal of American Medicine, and conducted by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), reveals 5-year trends over a variety of categories. Of note is the 5-year upward trend of increased diagnosis of anxiety and depression:

 “With respect to pre-pandemic trends, there was a significant increase in diagnosed mental health conditions, specifically a 27% increase in anxiety and a 24% increase in depression, between 2016 and 2019. These findings are consistent with reports from other data sources.  The direction of these trends continued into 2020, representing 5.6 million children with diagnosed anxiety and 2.4 million children diagnosed with depression” (Lebrun-Harris, et al., 2022) [2]

Of additional note was the “a significant (21%) increase in behavior or conduct problems between 2019 and 2020”.[3]  

Part of HHS’ response to the need for increased attention to mental health is $35million in grants to increase healthcare availability and access, nationally. 

What school districts do, when faced with the increased need for attention to mental and behavioral health, will matter this year, and beyond.

As part of budgeting and planning, EduSolve recommends that district administrators focus on evaluating and implementing the following: 

  • A current or planned assessment of campus climate & wellness for both students and faculty.
  • A clear and documented MTSS approach to mental heath.
  • A collaborative approach to maximize the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.



[1] See: 2022 HHS announcement  

[2] Lebrun-Harris, L. A., Ghandour, R. M., Kogan, M. D., & Warren, M. D. (2022). Five-Year trends in US children’s health and well-being, 2016-2020. In JAMA Pediatrics, (176), e220056. American Medical Association (AMA). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.0056

[3] Ibid