“The teachers are not alright.” News accounts and social media pages attest to the fatigue – both mental and physical – America’s teachers are experiencing this fall as they continue to adjust to the new normal after the past year of pandemic classrooms. It seems our teachers could use some of the social emotional learning strategies they are sharing with students trying to cope. Hyam Elsaharty knows a lot about that. She used her FFT grant to research in Malaysia how collectivist communities apply SEL skills in homes and schools, then applied her findings at Chicago’s Mather High School, where one-third of students were refugees, immigrants and/or English Language Learners. Now, she’s sharing her expertise with Seattle Public Schools as its Consulting SEL Teacher for the entire district.
Today, we’re learning from Hayam Elsaharty, a Fund for Teachers Fellow who also serves on our Educator Advisory Council. Hyam holds an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Indiana, a master’s degree in Resource Development from Northeastern Illinois University, a second master’s degree in Education from Quincy University and a certificate in English as a Second Language. With her 2017 Fund for Teachers grant, she and a colleague investigated programs in Malaysia supporting Rohingyan refugees who fled genocide in Myanmar. With new knowledge and insights, Hyam and her teammate expanded the advisory curriculum by creating a series of meaningful units that meet the specific social and emotional needs of refugee and immigrant students. The following year, buoyed by her fellowship experience, she applied for and was awarded a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms grant to research Social Emotional Learning in Peru.
After being named Chicago Public Schools’ first Social Emotional Learning Teacher of the Year, she moved to Seattle to help direct a district wide SEL focus on adult education, and supporting educators to develop knowledge, confidence, and agency in teaching students SEL skills. Our conversation began talking about her fellowship and how it changed her life personally and professionally, then migrated to the topic of how teachers can use social emotional learning for themselves.