Next NAIS President Candidates Series, Part 4: Emotional Crises and Leading From the Heart | Joshua Freedman | 9 Min Read

Note from the editor:

Most of our readers know that NAIS is searching for a new President. We would like the search to be a more open process, therefore subject to questions from independent school constituents. Consequently, we are publishing a series of articles with one question each to candidates for the next NAIS President. This series includes:

1. Part 1: On Curriculum & Knowledge | Sanje Ratnavale

2. Part 2: Supporting Teacher Voices | Alden Blodget

3. Part 3: Equity | Ray Ravaglia

August 30, 2022

Today’s question:

“How should schools strategically tackle the emotional crises currently impacting students, teachers, and leadership teams?”

To get our emotional bearings, let’s summarize the current scenario. Educators are approaching a catastrophic meltdown as they bear the brunt of conflating social dysfunctions. We are in a “perfect storm” of culture wars & polarization, escalating mental health crises, declining trust in institutions and one another, and the relentless uncertainty and chaos of the pandemic and its ripple effects. Heads of School are valiantly attempting to lead through this storm, far beyond the job description. How will NAIS and the new President meaningfully serve schools to stem the tide?

As usual, the most vulnerable carry the greatest burden. We can see these forces ripping at students’ well-being, leading the U.S. Surgeon General to issue one of the first-ever public advisories on youth mental health. And students in marginalized groups are even more likely to be adversely affected. COVID has cast a shadow of isolation, fear, loss, and insecurity on the segment of our population that is most vulnerable.

But they are not the only group in our indy school world that requires attention. Teachers and administrators experienced similar emotional crises, and while they may have been better able to cope than our students, adults were also challenged by circumstances not experienced in the past hundred years. In order to support our students, our teachers and administrators must take care of themselves first.

In order to achieve the goals of social-emotional wellness for all members of Indy Schools, we also have to overcome public perception, which is drifting farther away from our stated goals for social-emotional learning, a prerequisite for effective academic learning. We are up against public criticisms such as those…

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua Freedman, CEO, Six Seconds, is one of the pioneers in the field of emotional intelligence; he cofounded Six Seconds in 1997, is the bestselling author of At the Heart of Leadership and five other books and six validated psychometric assessments on EQ, and contributor to many EQ programs including Coaching Equity Essentials. He’s also an instructor at Columbia Teachers College SPA administrative credential program; he is cocreator of the world’s largest social emotional learning program, POP-UP Festival ­— in partnership with UNICEF World Children’s Day, bringing skills for emotional wellbeing to millions of children & adults in 200+ countries.