In the first episode of The Schoolyard Podcast, host Nancy Chung and Guest Dr. Sue Ann Highland discuss the importance of learning environments and their role in promoting social emotional learning (SEL) and wellness in the classroom.
Creating a classroom environment that promotes social emotional wellness is crucial for the overall development and success of students. When students feel a sense of belonging, they’re more likely to engage in learning, build positive relationships with peers, and develop a sense of self-worth.
Nancy and Dr. Highland discuss creating a safe and supportive space where students express their emotions, develop empathy, and build resilience. By incorporating activities like journaling or mindfulness exercises to encourage self-reflection, students learn to manage their emotions effectively and develop a positive mindset.
Implementing cooperative learning strategies, encouraging collaboration, and celebrating diversity fosters a supportive community where all students feel valued and accepted. When students feel like they belong, they are more likely to actively participate in class discussions, share ideas, and take risks in their learning.
Prioritizing the social emotional wellness and holistic development of students allows educators to create a safe and supportive environment where students are empowered to reach their full potential. As Dr. Highland notes, “Teaching is the only profession that trains all other professions.” So let’s encourage classrooms where everyone feels valued and included!
Dr. Sue Ann Highland is the National Education Strategist for School Specialty. As an Education Strategist, she uses her expertise in educational initiatives and administrative leadership to help teachers and leaders to transform teaching and learning.
In addition to her work at School Specialty, Highland has also served as a change and improvement consultant to more than many Colorado business and educational institutions since 2004. In this capacity, she enhanced personnel performance, streamlined organizational operations and introduced process improvements that enhance productivity for companies and schools. She also has several years experience in managing a team that transforms learning environments for districts.
Highland derives her expertise from over 25 years in education, with half of those years in rural districts. She has worked as an Organizational Development Director, an elementary school principal and a school district’s Director of Federal Programs, Curriculum and Instruction. In these positions, Highland was responsible for professional development and daily management as well as for leading initiatives and evaluating staff performance and results. She specializes in improvement, turnaround, and change management.
Highland received a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Northern Colorado and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University.