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Welcoming the Whole Learner Back to School

Welcoming the Whole Learner Back to School

Back-to-school season is always a little exciting and a little stressful. This school year is no different, and the challenges of learning are compounded by a bouquet of dynamic, external factors. That's education for you. Every student is different, and every student's home life is different. You can't control what goes on outside the classroom, but you can control how you prepare yourself and your classroom community to support the needs of the whole student. 

Some students only need a little support, and some need much more. Luckily, because we know that learning occurs in an integrated waywith academic and nonacademic skills developing in conjunction with each otherensuring that we develop these nonacademic interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, such as collaboration, self- and social awareness, goal setting, and emotional regulation, helps everyone. Teaching these soft skills has been linked to increased academic performance, and it promotes well-rounded developmental experiences. 

Let’s take a look at some resources to help you get back to school with the whole learner in mind: 

Importance of Developmental Relationships in Our Schools: What Research Is Telling Us 

How can you make connections with students to propel learning, motivation, and academic achievement? This blog post outlines five core elements for educators to use to reach students and help them grow. 

Help All Students Be Seen: Five Tips for Stronger Connections 

Support your whole learners with conscious connection. Read this blog to learn how one educator adjusted her thinking to see the true student within and built much stronger student relationships as a result. 

5 Strategies to Help Boost Your Students’ Self-Esteem and Confidence in the Classroom 

This blog post outlines approaches to positively affect students and increase confidence. Through utilizing differentiated learning, fostering a sense of ownership, and creating realistic expectations, students can discover their hidden strengths in the classroom. 

Play-Based Learning: What It Is and Why It Should Be a Part of Every Classroom 

Support the whole learner with play-based learning. When children engage in real-life and imaginary activities, play can challenge children’s thinking. Play motivates, stimulates and supports children in their development of skills, concepts, language acquisition, communication skills, and concentration. Read this blog to learn more. 

Understanding Teen Relationships Through a Whole-Learner Lens 

Students who form and keep healthy relationships learn to demonstrate skills like active listening, clear communication, conflict navigation, problem-solving, and collaboration. In this blog post, we dig into helping students navigate and understand the peer relationships they choose with evidence-based mental health and wellness curriculum. 

[Student Engagement] 5 Strategies to Make Brain Breaks Work in the Classroom 

Support your whole learners with brain breaks. Research shows when students are led in quick physical activity exercises every 25-30 or so minutes, their brain activity actually increases. Learn strategies to implement structured and successful brain-breaking in this blog. 

[Student Engagement] 4 Brain Breaks for the Virtual Classroom 

Learn some easily incorporated brain break activities you can do online to meet the needs of your students. We all need a brain break every now and then to unplug, reset, and refocus. Share in these fun activities with your students and build your relationships while you break! 

How to Get Started with Trauma-Informed Teaching: 6 Resources for Educators 

This blog post has resources for identifying traumatic experiences, tips for parents and caregivers, and information on the impact trauma can have on students. We know it is important to support students who have experienced trauma—let’s learn more about professions dedicated specifically to this work, including counselors, therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Then, we can get started with trauma-informed teaching. 

Trauma, Burnout, and Compassion Fatigue: How to Support Yourself and Students 

This previously recorded webinar shows how to balance the adverse impact of stress and trauma so that you can teach in ways in which students can learn. Learn how to support yourself and your students so that your school community can thrive. 

Equipping Educators to Teach the Whole Learner: Self-Knowledge and Compassion as Avenues to Success 

Educators are dealing with so much more than academic learning. In this blog post, we unpack how to support educators with professional development so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate a school environment where they can form strong relationships and students will feel heard.  

Whole Learning in Action: All or Nothing Thinking 

This previously recorded webinar is a demonstration of the BASE Education module titled “All or Nothing Thinking.” Watch to learn how to identify absolute language and black-and-white perspectives, and then, you can discover some strategies for changing and calming your mind to view the world through a more nuanced lens. 

The Edmentum Podcast E21: Empathy Mapping: A Recipe for Re-Connecting with Students 

Education coach and author, Jorge Valenzeula, joins host David Cicero to talk about the power of systematically connecting with students using empathy mapping and shares special considerations for remote learners. 

Looking for more resources to address the whole learner? Check out our catalog of over 100 mental health and wellness modules for students and staff. 

This post was originally published September 2021 by Adam Burke and has been updated.'s picture
Sian Reilly

Sian joined Edmentum in 2019 and serves as a Senior Marketing Specialist. A former teacher and administrator, Sian believes that individualizing education for the whole learner with quality academic and non-academic curriculum and assessment can powerfully transform students, campuses, and communities. Sian is passionate about connecting educators with content to meet their specific needs in an ever-evolving education environment.