Volume 2, Issue 8 | July 2022
HeartMind e-News: Teach, Learn, Lead
A monthly publication dedicated to trauma-informed, compassionate school practices that help educators, students, and families move toward a sense of wholeness and well-being
Grief, Loss, Discrimination, Devaluation, Executive Functioning
How Teachers Can Address Grief and Discrimination, and Improve Executive Functioning

This month’s HeartMind eNews brings you insights into the grief and loss that students have experienced during COVID. The first article by Kaea Kaiser, a guest author, describes some common responses of children to grief and loss, as well as ways to network with mental health staff to better support students. In the second article, Sydney Rhodes delves into how teachers can improve executive functioning, with reminders of numerous ways that teachers can incorporate activities that can make a life-long difference not only in students’ emotional adjustment, but also in their academic proficiency. Our third author this month, Melanie Tu, provides a moving first person account of the impact of discrimination, drawing a parallel between the racial stigma Trevor Noah felt during apartheid, and how she was made to feel different because of her disability. As she says, “For both me and Trevor, we are too seen for what we represent but not seen for who we are.” Melanie ends her article with recommendations to “curb the need to discriminate.”
Featured Articles
Welcome to HeartMind e-News, dedicated to translating research and theory to practice, to aid implementation of compassionate practices in schools. Each issue has practical suggestions for teachers, researchers, school administrators, educational policymakers, mental health providers, students, and families. You are also invited to join the HeartMind Community to receive discounts on publications and workshops, networking opportunities, and special offers for virtual consultations and additional resources from the Center for Educational Improvement.
How School Staff Can Help Students with Grief and Loss
Kaea Kaiser, Guest Author
Although we tend to romanticize youth as a time of joy and play, the reality for many children is far more somber. Before the pandemic, surveys showed that 1 in 14 students lost a parent before turning 18. In the wake of the pandemic, these tragic instances have only become more common (NEA, 2021). Recent estimates reveal that about 140,000 children have lost either a parent or grandparent since the pandemic began. This means that for every four COVID-related deaths, a child has been left grieving for a lost loved one. And given that even those students who haven’t experienced firsthand loss likely know friends who have, the grief can be virtually inescapable.

Now, while grief and loss are inevitable parts of life, they are also not struggles that students should be left to manage by themselves. Although many students are able to process their pain and grow from it in time, the majority need guidance and compassion to see such dire circumstances through. Considering that most students spend a large chunk of their time at school, it is essential that school staff provide guidance and act as supportive allies in times of hardship...Read more.

Improving Academic Achievement by Improving Executive Functioning
Sydney Tubbs Rhodes, CEI Intern
Executive functioning skills (EF) have been linked to a plethora of developmental, academic, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes in achievement, literacy, health, wealth, and criminality (Ahmed et al., 2019). Ahmed and colleagues reviewed over 1,200 studies examining the relationship between EF in preschool years and longitudinal outcomes in adolescence. They reported that working memory, the ability to store and manipulate information in one’s mind, during preschool years was significantly correlated to working memory and math and reading achievement at age 15. More recently, EF has gained attention for its connections to students’ academic achievement and practical success in school. By improving executive functioning, students may also substantially increase their academic performance... Read more.

Melanie Tu, CEI Intern
“You just take your time sweetie!” the teacher’s aid told me as she sat me down to take my spelling test, separate from the other third graders because I had accommodations that gave me extra time on tests. The word accommodation, meaning to adapt or adjust to something or someone, is interesting because on the surface-level, it seems polite to the circumstance while it can have more subtle judgment implications on deeper levels.

The Origins of Stigmas Surrounding Disability

In Harlan Hanh’s (1998) The Politics of Physical Difference: Disability and Discrimination, he discusses possible origins to the stigmas around disability. Hanh poses that people feel a certain type of anxiety around those with disabilities because they cannot subconsciously imagine themselves looking (aesthetic anxiety) or having the same deficits and leading a happy, productive life (existential anxiety) in accordance to societal values like personal appearance and individual autonomy (pp. 41-43). These types of anxieties can extend beyond stigmas towards the disabilities community and encompass issues such as racism, sexism, and gender identity. All these categories are deviants from what societally is considered the norm...Read more.

Upcoming Events and Announcements

Virtual Self Care for Teachers and Other School Staff!

The sessions, offered by CEI, are designed for teachers, teacher assistants, counselors, psychologists, social workers, administrators, and mental health staff working in and with schools.

Here are your options:
·    Yoga classes for educators. Wednesday mornings 7:15- 8:00 am
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Send your questions or time preferences and contact information to info@edimprovement.org
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