This school year looks different than any other and that can be stressful and worrisome for both educators and students alike. Educators of kids in need are facing their greatest challenge yet as the pandemic worsens existing barriers to education.
Earlier this year, we distributed a First Book Research & Insights survey, asking educators about their concerns, and what they need to ensure their students are ready and able to learn. In response, we have partnered with organizations and outside experts to expedite a collection of resources to address the issues identified by educators working with kids in need nationwide.
Educators are Worried about Children’s Mental/Social-Emotional Health
Mental health has taken center stage for children in need, as these uncertain times have brought new stresses and grief to their lives. In fact, 91% of educators cited mental health of their students as a top concern. We partnered with the New York Life Foundation to host a community webcast, Supporting Children Coping with Grief and Loss, led by Dr. David Schonfeld, to discuss ways educators can support their students currently coping with grief and loss. Watch the webcast here.
In addition, First Book offers a range of tools and resources to help educators and programs support Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills development and address trauma including a Trauma Toolkit, the Promoting Respect and Empathy Toolkit and the Grief, Loss and Healing Toolkit.
Educators Need Support to Bridge the Digital Divide
According to our study, more than 40% of kids in need face back to school without access to the internet or devices, essentially locking them out of learning. First Book is working with Intel, CDW-G and the LEGO Foundation to provide a comprehensive package of distance learning resources to 45 school districts in 13 states. Creating Learning Connections provides learning solutions designed to fuel education during this critical time by supporting thousands of students and families in Title I schools impacted by the pandemic. Students will receive critical at-home and in–the-classroom learning resources, including internet connectivity, technology devices and hands-on STEAM learning solutions.
Educators Want Resources for Age-Appropriate Conversations About Race
Seventy-six percent of respondents told us they needed access to new tools to support effective, age-appropriate conversations with students about race and social justice. First Book and long-time partner Pizza Hut worked with leading anti-bias, antiracist experts to develop a series of Empowering Educators resources, including:
- a live webcast, Empowering Educators: A Convening on Racial Equity in Education, a collaboration between First Book, Pizza Hut, and American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center. The webcast featured the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and award-winning author Jason Reynolds, award-winning teacher Liz Kleinrock, and Christine Platt, Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy and Amanda Taylor of American University.
- an introductory guidebook on antiracist pedagogy,
- an instructional video series,
- five books from First Book’s Stories for All Project™, printed in special edition paperbacks;
- and other forthcoming educational resources.
The Empowering Educators resources can also be used by organizations, community action agencies, and families looking to build their understanding and awareness around creating equity in education.
And, to further support diversity and inclusion, First Book collaborated with the Aerospace Industries Association to create a Diversity in STEM Calendar to celebrate culture, diversity and inclusion throughout the school year.
Educators drive the work of First Book
We recognize that there is much more educators need – and First Book is laser focused on listening and responding with the highest quality resources as fast as we can.
If you’re an educator serving children in need, visit the First Book Marketplace to explore more books and resources. And encourage your fellow educators serving children in need to sign up with First Book – to add their voice and drive the development of even more resources to support equal education.