WETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) – All week, Channel 3 has been giving you a look inside Connecticut classrooms.
A one-of-a-kind survey was sent to Connecticut public school teachers on a variety of topics.
In our last report, teachers say they’re tasked to deal with emotional issues on a higher level than ever before.
If a teacher’s job isn’t hard enough with teaching academics, many teachers are sharing they need more training in students’ emotional issues.
Channel 3 asked a professional why emotions are running so high in schools.
“I think we are living in changed times. Stress levels are the highest they’ve been among adolescents and teenagers,” said Dr. Marc Brackett, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
Because of that, Dr. Marc Brackett has been working with a few hundred Connecticut school districts, training educators and leaders on emotional learning. Some districts include Newington, Southington, and Bridgeport.
“Some kids are anxious with math, some kids are confused in chemistry, and some students, if they have a learning difference like dyslexia, they’ll have challenges with writing and reading. Just acknowledging that and supporting students is what education is all about,” Dr. Brackett said.
Channel 3 teamed up with two teachers’ unions in the state, American Federation of Teachers Connecticut and Connecticut Education Association (CEA). A survey was sent to Connecticut’s 50,000 public school teachers, with close to 1,500 responses.
One of the questions asked teachers, “What are the biggest challenges students of this generation are facing?”
From the 1,500 response, 71 percent of teacher say anxiety, some teacher chimed in to say, “Lack of discipline. Administration isn’t strict enough,” and “Lack of a structured home environment.”
Channel 3 also asked, “What do you think is causing the increasing number of disruptive student behaviors in today’s classrooms?”
Seventy-nine percent responded saying no consequences.
“I think what’s frustrating is when the teachers feel they have no backup. They don’t have support. There aren’t enough social workers or counselors, or school psychologists, paraprofessionals. If we don’t provide the type of support that students need, then the consequences may be that those needs go unmet and that’s a real problem for the students and the rest of the class,” said Don Williams, CEA Executive Director.
Some teachers say, “Students learn very quickly that there are no consequences. Whether it be retaking assessments, handing in outstanding work (months later), being tardy, absent, cutting class. Students know the school will find a way form them to ‘pass’ no matter what.”
For Dr. Brackett, he teaches educators how to deal with these emotions.
“Teaching people the skills of emotional intelligence. We used an acronym called RULER: Recognizing our own and others emotions, Understanding the causes and consequences of our emotions, Labeling our emotions accurately, knowing how and when to Express our feelings, and the big one is Regulating emotions and the strategies we can use to help ourselves and other people,” Dr. Brackett said.
Dr. Brackett is finding it works on many levels.
“Schools that take our RULER approach seriously have students who are more engaged, less stressed, less depressed, teachers who are less stressed and less burnt out and students who perform better academically and a more positive climate,” Dr. Brackett said.
He also believes parents need to be involved.
“The most helpful way to get parents involved is to have the students be the teachers of their parents. ‘Hey mom, hey dad, I learned this new word… alienated or elated, this is what is means, tell me a time when you felt that way,’” Dr. Brackett said.
Teachers agree with Dr. Brackett.
“Parental involvement doesn’t mean going into the school volunteering and giving back, but just being involved in your child’s education. Reading, doing work at home, helping them value education and see themselves as a student and honoring what the education system does for your child,” said Amy Farrior, Kindergarten teacher.
To see the results of the teacher survey, click here.