Cleveland Teachers Prioritize Mental and Emotional Health During Covid Learning

On a recent Thursday evening, after a long day of work, over 100 Cleveland Metropolitan School District teachers showed up (virtually) for their students. “You had us at ‘free books!’” one teacher exclaimed, while the group expressed appreciation and shared ideas for how to engage their students with the new Cleveland School Book Fund books they would receive after the event.

While much has changed about the way we educate students in the year 2020, one thing remains the same for these Cleveland teachers — the emotional and mental health of their students is a top priority.

More than anything, it was rewarding to hear the ideas, laughter and excitement of our teaching colleagues during a time when the expectations and demands of their job are at an all-time high. Feedback from teachers following the event included the following:

“Thank you thank you! Really appreciate your message of caring about student’s and staff’s mental health. So much of our in-service has been technology. This really gets Down to what is really important!” — Lynda Z.

“All the wonderful books you have provided for my classroom really help boost the online learning. My students also absolutely love the books you provided to help them build an in-home library, as well. Cannot thank you enough for helping my students develop a love of reading during the dark days of this Pandemic!” — Melanie B.

“What an inspiring message! Thanks for all you’re doing for Cleveland’s kids and the adults who care about them!” — Lynn W.

The night’s curriculum included highlights of recently chosen books to help students and families make sense of the challenging times we live in, as well as an introduction to literacy and learning resources through the Cuyahoga County Public library lending center.

A few of the items available to families, in addition to books, include:

● Mobile WiFi Hotspots — unlimited access, no cost
● Special needs and sensory toys
● Puzzles and games
● Counting and measurement toys
● Health and science educational kits

Due to COVID-19 risks in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Municipal School District announced they plan to follow a remote learning model through the end of the year for all students. While the challenge of making virtual school meaningful for children in Pre-K through 4th grade is a big one, we continue to see teachers rise to the occasion.

The Cleveland Schools Book Fund board voted to increase funding designated for online support to teachers, and CSBF provided classroom sets of the books and teacher resource materials presented during the event to every participating teacher.

The teacher book set includes:

The Big Umbrella, by Amy June Bates
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, by F. Isabel Campoy
Masked Ninja,by Mary Nhin
School is different this Year …and That’s Ok
Our Classroom is a Family, by Shannon Olsen
Little Spot Learns Online, by Diane Alber (Link to companion PDF from the author)

Additional resources: 

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