Educators Thrive in the Classroom

By Scarlett Lewis

Scarlett Lewis, Sandy Hook mother and Founder of Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement™, will speak at this year’s National Summit on School Safety, October 26-28. Scarlett will join a lineup of over 30 school safety leaders and change-makers to share her life’s mission, and how the power of social and emotional learning (SEL) can change and save lives. Register today to hear from Scarlett and many other amazing presenters. 

It’s back-to-school time and I am so happy to see all the teachers and students back in their classrooms doing what they do best: teaching, learning, and choosing love! September kicked off the start of the school year and thankfully I’ve been able to travel, in person, to visit schools in seven states around the U.S. who are using the Choose Love For Schools program, and to also virtually check in with many more.  It made my heart happy to see all those classrooms bustling with activity.

It’s another year that our educational system has faced continued uncertainty related to the pandemic. However, schools have courageously forged ahead with in-person learning so students can get back to a daily routine, have more social interaction, maintain a focus on their academics with less distraction, and hopefully allot more time to social and emotional learning and character education.  Our children are showing great resilience as they wear their masks and focus on learning. That said, it’s our educators who are displaying even greater courage, determination, and grace. I have personally witnessed this and it is breathtaking. Educators are our modern day superheroes with the most important job in the entire world of helping to shape and mold our children into the adults they will become. The future of our world is literally in their hands.

I founded the Choose Love Movement to provide love and support to our educators and their students and the recent stories I’ve heard on my visits of how the Choose Love Formula has given everyone the strength and courage to face this challenge with their best selves is astounding. Courage is not the absence of fear but persistence and resilience in the face of adversity. In fact, I usually find myself crying tears of joy in between presentations because of all the positivity and dedication that I see coming from the educators.  They are so grateful to be back in the classroom with fellow teachers and physically standing in front of their students.  While most of the teachers are maintaining a positive mindset, during my most recent visits I have spoken with some who have voiced some valid concerns. One of the main issues that teachers face is learning loss from last year. The second is COVID and all the ramifications including new CDC guidelines, such as testing and quarantines. The third continues to be safety, and this has expanded to include the consequences of the pandemic.

Our goal is to revitalize and inspire educators, and to give them a framework to meet every student’s social, emotional, and academic needs. In a relevant article in last month’s Berkeley News, “As K-12 students return, schools shouldn’t obsess over pandemic ‘learning loss,’ ” Edward Lempinen writes: “But while some evidence suggests the pandemic has slowed students’ academic progress, Berkeley education scholars caution that educators shouldn’t obsess about it. Better, they said, to focus more on the social and emotional well-being of students — and their teachers — as in-person classes resume after a historic period of uncertainty, fear and loss.”

I want our educators to know that we are here to support them on their journey in actively engaging students in meaningful, cultural, and linguistically relevant learning experiences. I can see how educators are striving to address academic learning loss and bridging gaps where students are faltering, but adding CDC guidelines and ensuring safety precautions are in place makes it even more challenging. Talking with educators over the past 18 months, I’ve learned how overwhelming it can be to organize an effective social-emotional recovery for their classroom, make sure students keep their masks on and maintain hygienic practices, and follow a daily academic plan. Before any learning can be effective, students and educators need to feel safe, a sense of belonging, cared for, and loved. We need to continually support schools in providing tools and resources to help bring students and educators back to baseline so they are present, calm, and ready to learn and have a successful school year. I applaud all our educators who are really stepping up and amplifying their classroom experiences and not only finding joy being back in-person, but valuing their students’ and their own physical, mental, and emotional wellness that will ultimately improve and enhance classroom climates.

Our educators deserve to be recognized for all that they are doing to help students become their best selves despite the obstacles that make it more challenging. But I know our educators are dedicated, and by always choosing love in the face of uncertainty they are cultivating hope and resilience. I am amazed at the positive difference this courageous, grateful, forgiving, and compassionate choice is making in classrooms and entire schools around the world. Our educators are the change-makers who are creating our future!