/ April 16, 2021

Social Emotional Learning: Bringing support groups for teachers online

In her role as an Early Childhood Social Worker for schools in Manhattan, Barbara Biermann has seen the value of nurturing the nurturers time and time again. That’s why, when schools closed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, she knew immediately that it wasn’t just the students who needed support: the families and teachers who care for them needed help as well.

Ms. Biermann began writing two newsletters—one for parents and another for teachers. She shared helpful tips on how to cope with new realities, including the switch to digital learning. In personalized emails chock full of resources, Barbara also normalized the stress and anxiety many teachers and parents were feeling.

It wasn’t the only time Barbara went above and beyond her usual responsibilities. In order to reach teachers in a variety of ways, Barbara created inter-school groups where teachers across multiple sites could connect and support one another. During the pandemic, Barbara convened these groups online so that teachers could continue to connect during the crisis.

“Barbara derives a lot of joy from helping people,” said Jodi Samson, Mental Health and Wellness Administrator, Manhattan. “She has a generosity of spirit and everyone who knows her feels enriched by having her in their community. When I told a teacher who knows Barbara that I nominated her as a hero, the teacher was so excited. It was obvious to her—who else would be nominated?”

From Ms. Biermann:
“As a social worker I am in a position to provide children, parents, and teachers a level of support they may otherwise be without.”

Community mental health program: Social Emotional Learning

Social, emotional, and behavioral regulation skills are foundational for learning and well-being. Through a partnership between ThriveNYC and the Department of Education, Pre-K and 3-K programs across New York City provide social-emotional learning support to students, families, program leaders and teaching teams. Over 3,000 teachers and program staff participated in at least one professional learning session through this program since it launched in 2016. And, an additional 3,000 parents and caregivers have attended family workshops to learn social emotional development practices since 2016.