Neither of my parents were equipped with the skills or the vocabulary to talk about their feelings so they couldn't pass that on to me. You can tell when you get a "how was your day" or "how was your weekend" but you know the person isn't really asking, they are just making conversation. They are giving you a canned question so you give them a canned response. People would literally run away from you if you responded with "terrible, let me tell you about it" to either of those questions.
What does that mean in the classroom? When you ask how a kid is doing, mean it. Asking more than one question and walking off is a start. Ask about a specific person in their family, ask if they traveled anywhere, as anything other than "how was your___?"
My parents are from a generation where people didn't talk about their feelings in the open and so are most people on the planet. You have your issues, you bury them deep inside, and if you choose to deal with them, you do it on your own.
That's not the way it should be, especially given the impact of emotional distress on the learning brain.
On the social side, in young males in particular, you see a higher incidence of anger, violence, substance abuse, and risk taking because of that increased expectation of them to endure everything without feeling feelings.
I spent a long time in fear of being powerless to change my trajectory in life because of where I was from, who I was related to, and the color of my skin. I've only been alive 25 years but I've been angry for just about 24 of them. The difference for me was having a few teachers that really got it. A few teachers that asked me the questions I needed to hear to open up about what was bothering me. Everyone needs someone to release that valve and let some of the pressure out in a healthy way.
I didn't know how. I didn't have the words to express what I was thinking or feeling. Someone had to teach me, and I'm glad they did.
If you do that for your students, they will be better off for it. You may even see an improvement in their academic performance.
Follow us on Facebook; Twitter; iTunes; Soundcloud; Stitcher
Social and Emotional Health in Dallas Schools
Mental Health Week Rundown
Why Dallas Student Emotions Matter
Why "Back in my day" Hurts Dallas Education