Interview for CASEL given by Sara Motta, tutor at Cometa, on the impact of the Covid-19 emergency on learners’ social emotional learning, how to support them and the teachers/trainers.
What specific steps have you taken to support your students’ social and emotional learning throughout this crisis?
Cometa Formazione is a vocational training organization, supporting many learners with special needs or at risk of dropout. After the crisis explosion, we immediately introduced online classes. Every day, as a tutor, we welcome the learners on the platform, we check for those not connected, we support learners and teachers during the lectures and, finally, we organize, weekly, 2-hours “special” web sessions on specific topics: phylosophy (to stimulate life skills and SEL), dialogues on social awareness, group working on news and fake news, setting their own CV, among the others.
What advice do you have for educators about the most effective ways to support their student’s social and emotional learning and well-being from a distance through the peak of the COVID-19 crisis?
It is crucial to address their emerging need of a sense of happiness, meaning, well-being. The first step is to stimulate it proposing discussions or stimulating this need to emerge. Some of us have proposed learners to keep a diary to take note of the emerging worries or fears. Then, together, we face them and try to support each other working on their awareness (who am I? what can I do for the community?…). A second important element is to provide a even stronger support than usual: as distant learning is not easy for many learners, it is essential to keep working on learners’ motivation, with all due flexibility and possible creativity. We want to make them aware we care if they are present and what they do and think.
What advice do you have for educators to maintain their own social and emotional well-being through the peak of the COVID-19 crisis?
Namely at the beginning of the crisis, it is really hard to manage the new routine, staying in touch with all the learners and using properly your time. It is not something we can manage alone. Working in team, even if via internet, is a great relief and help in sharing positive events or problems emerging with learners, colleagues or, also, at personal level. The team of tutors, every day, dedicate one hour for a quick and intense meeting for that reason. Beside that, the continously changing reality shows the importance to keep our initiatives and proposals flexible and adaptable. We can’t and should not be worried if we don’t achieve what we hoped to, we need to be realistic.