When It Comes to Learning, Emotions Play an Important Role


Oct WC Podcast 300x300According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year about 20 percent of students experience some kind of emotional or behavioral issue. In response, many schools are building on traditional health services for students and developing schoolwide mental health programs. But these expanded programs are not just for dealing with issues; they are also in place to help all students improve their mental health and build resilience. As Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer writes in this month’s Educational Leadership magazine, “How educators respond to students’ emotions and emotional behaviors can have lifelong effects—on students’ academic growth, on the way they see themselves as people, and on the well-being of all the other students.”

On this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we explore what educators can do to create a school environment where all kids feel safe, secure, and supported; how teachers can provide support for kids in their classes; and, most important, how we all can help develop kids who are emotionally healthy and resilient.

Listen to the episode below or download here.


  • Jeffrey Benson has worked in nearly every school context in his almost 40 years in education: as a teacher in elementary, middle, and high schools; as an instructor in undergraduate and graduate programs; and as an administrator in day and residential schools. He has studied and worked side by side with national leaders in the fields of special education, learning theory, trauma and addiction, school reform, adult development, and conflict resolution. He is the author of the 2014 ASCD best seller Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most, the 2015 ASCD Arias publication 10 Steps to Managing Change in Schools: How do we take initiatives from goals to actions?, and an article in the October 2015 issue of Educational Leadership magazine on how to gain the trust of emotionally vulnerable kids. Connect with Benson on Twitter @jeffreybenson61.
  • Giacomo Bono is an assistant professor of psychology at California State University Dominguez Hills. He has a background in social and developmental psychology and expertise in positive youth development—in particular prosocial behavior, well-being, and interpersonal relationships in family, school, and community contexts. He has more than 10 years of experience with research and evaluation of prevention and promotion programs for youth and families. Together with Jeffrey Froh, Bono is working on research funded by the John Templeton Foundation to examine the measurement of gratitude in children and teens, developmental factors of gratitude, and intervention strategies and applications for promoting gratitude in youth. Benson and Froh are also coauthors of the 2014 book Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, and the Psychology Today blog based on it. Connect with Bono on Twitter @Giacomo_Bono and @Grateful_Kids.
  • Laurie A. Namey is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and the supervisor of equity and cultural proficiency for Harford County (Md.) Public Schools (HCPS), a diverse school system that serves more than 5,000 employees and 37,000 students in 54 schools. Namey is also an instructor for the Graduate Programs in Education at Goucher College in Baltimore, where she focuses on the education of at-risk and diverse learners. She has written for ASCD’s Inservice blog and has presented at many state and national conferences in the areas of equity, school climate, classroom management, PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports), and social/emotional learning. During her tenure in HCPS, she has also served as an assistant principal, behavior specialist, and English teacher. Connect with Namey on Twitter @NameyEquityHCPS.

How does developing students’ emotional health help them when they leave our classrooms and our schools?


The Whole Child Podcast: Changing the Conversation About Education seeks to inform and engage educators, parents, and community members about what works in today’s schools. Guests include educational leaders, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and students from around the globe who share their insight into sound education policies and practices that ensure that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.