The Times They Are A-Changin’: A call for social-emotional support in our schools
Lyrics written by Bob Dylan
Last summer this beautiful mural was painted by Edoardo Kobra in Minneapolis near the place my daughter studies ballet. I pass this mural somewhere between 6 and 8 times a week. It makes me think about the lyrics and my experiences as an educational leader. I know the lyrics to the song, The Times they are a Changin’, were written for another time in history but speak to me today. They speak to me about a need for all our schools across the land.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
The social emotional needs of our children are not other people’s problems. I need more people to understand more of what I see working daily with our youth. The mental health needs of our students are complex and exist in every kind of school. I have worked in urban, suburban and fringe rural schools and seen many different kids who have experienced trauma that permeates their learning. I know children who have experienced too much loss that rarely leaves their thoughts. I have known children who struggle to live. I know children who hide their needs expertly and evade help consistently. I know over-achieving students who render themselves dysfunctional with anxiety. Somehow they move forward day after day but I am drenched with their needs.
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
Our community can no longer overlook the social emotional needs of our children and how they play into learning and achievement. Schools cannot be expected to meet these needs without additional resources, training and support. We see behaviors, or symptoms, that bubble up all over the school when their needs not being met. The needs of our children are shaking our windows and rattling our walls. I see a lack of self-regulatory skills in our students today. Too many of our students have chemical health needs, too, as many of our adolescents numb with chemicals. If we partner with outside agencies and learn the new needs of our children, we can teach how to be mindful, vulnerable, have empathy, manage emotions, and be healthy in a new way.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
We all need to understand the social emotional needs of our children. Don’t block up the hall. It is real. The need is everywhere. It is vital that the whole community understands and supports the social emotional needs of students in our schools. We need families to be present with their children daily and understand their journey. Parents are the life-long, primary educators of their children. Educators need to understand how trauma affects learning. Together, we must meet the needs of the whole child so that we can ensure their success in school and their future in our society.