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On Our Minds is the name of KERA's mental health news initiative. The station began focusing on the issue in 2013, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and Cigna.

Combating The Mental Stresses Educators Are Facing During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Educator with mask on gives chrome book to student in front of school building.
Tony Gutierrez
AP News
Vanessa Cruz, left, a senior at W.W. Samuell High School, receives a Chromebook from assistant athletic director Cherry DeLeon, right, in Dallas, Thursday, April 9, 2020.

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't easy. Social distancing, remote learning and ramped-up school safety rules have, quite possibly, made education more challenging now than at any other time in recent memory.

That's one of major reasons the nonprofit Teach for America DFW has partnered with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to focus on the mental health of educators.

Rea Foster, is Executive Director for Teach For America DFW and she talked with KERA's Justin Martin about the program.

Interview Highlights:

How Will The Program Work?

Our teachers are going through a series of trainings right now that started in the summer, the next one coming up this fall. They are getting trained on tools available for them, as well as their students, in terms of social-emotional learning.

An example of that might look like what the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence calls the mood meter: it's a framework in which teachers and students can have the vocabulary to, to identify their emotions and then regulate them.

So am I happy today or am I sad today? Am I stressed today and why? And giving them the common language to use, to interact with one another, to identify those things and then act upon the emotions that they can name.

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence: Mood-Congruent Learning with the Mood Meter

How Will Progress Be Measured?

Our teachers, alongside the training they are getting, they also put together what we call individual self care plans.

As a part of those self care plans and the coaching that they do with our teachers, coaches that Teach for America provides then have ongoing conversations about their own emotional wellbeing and how that is growing for them over the course of the school year.

What Are Teachers Feeling Right Now?

They feel hopeful. They feel like this is a really, really hard moment, but when they are with their kids and they are seeing their kids engage with everything that is coming at them, try to navigate the virtual environment, try to stay on task and be in charge of their own learning, it also provides them with inspiration and hope.

So we're seeing our educators demonstrate a great sense of resilience in this moment that I think we can all learn from.

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday.

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.