Garmann Miller addressed a critical aspect of K-12 education—social, emotional and behavioral (SEB) development—in a breakout session at the 2023 Buckeye Association of School Administrators Fall Conference held at the Hilton Polaris in Columbus, Oct. 3. The program was led by Dr. Aaron Kuhn, a licensed therapist who specializes in SEB issues; Becky Baumer, an Accredited Learning Environment Planner; and Vaughn Ray, curriculum director at Celina City Schools, who equipped attendees with valuable insights and actionable strategies to shape learning spaces for the whole child.
Design with Purpose: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Prevention
One of the key takeaways from the session was the importance of designing educational spaces with a clear purpose in mind, spanning primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Understanding the diverse needs of students, especially those coping with SEB challenges, is a fundamental step towards creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
Statistics that Demand Attention
Shining a light on the prevalence of SEB issues, Garmann Miller reminded the audience that one in five children and adolescents face some form of SEB struggle. These challenges encompass a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, ADHD and executive functioning impairment, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder. Acknowledging and addressing these issues is crucial for ensuring every student has the opportunity to thrive academically and emotionally.
Polyvagal Chart and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Attendees were introduced to the powerful tools of the Polyvagal Chart and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These frameworks provide invaluable insights into understanding and supporting students’ emotional and psychological well-being, allowing educators to effectively tailor their approaches to meet individual needs.
Taking Action Today for SEB Development
The session emphasized three actionable steps that educators and administrators can implement immediately:
- Prevention: Ray urged attendees to evaluate their educational spaces with prevention in mind. Being intentional about designing spaces that support all students’ SEB needs is a crucial first step towards creating a nurturing learning environment.
- Relationships: Building strong and trusting relationships between teachers and students was underscored as a cornerstone of SEB development by Kuhn. Encouraging teachers to engage with students in an emotionally safe manner creates a foundation for academic and personal growth.
- Safety: Baumer added educational spaces should provide a sense of safety that promotes student development. Creating environments where students feel secure enables them to focus on their learning journey without the distraction of external stressors.
Garmann Miller’s session at the BASA Fall Conference serves as a reminder of the impact that intentional design and empathetic engagement can have on the SEB development of students. By implementing these strategies, educators and administrators have the power to create inclusive, nurturing spaces that empower every student to succeed.