The Many Roles of Today's Teachers

Image of Rhonda Mercs in classIf you were a classroom teacher, how would you respond to a first grade student who shares that there is no food at his home and no bed on which to sleep? What would be an appropriate response to a sixth grade student who arrives at school very upset because her cousin was shot and killed the night before? How would you calm an anxious fourth grade student who is worried about his family’s impending eviction and where they will live because both parents have lost jobs and cannot pay the rent?

The reality is that far too many of our children are faced with these and similar situations. For many, school is the only consistent part of their lives. Because they seek the comfort and safety of the classroom, the attention of their teachers, and the daily routine of school, such students rarely miss a day. While they may be physically present, it is often challenging to maintain focus and participate in classroom activities due to concern about life situations that are out of their control.

As we all know, teachers have many roles in addition to teaching academics. Sometimes they must foster social and emotional development of a student before learning can take place. While our expectations of teachers can be quite high, it is likely that many lack the personal experience of a challenging home life to adequately understand what their students go through. Far too often classroom teachers have not received training to effectively respond to students’ social and emotional needs. What can be done to bridge the gap?

UDCRC Professional Development Services

Teachers at Immaculate Conception School in Dayton, Ohio, have made a commitment to participate in monthly professional development sessions hosted by a clinical counselor from the University of Dayton Urban Child Development Resource Center (UCDRC) to learn about many issues students are facing today and how to better address such situations when they occur.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, training has focused on: Stress Reduction, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, De-Escalation, Bullying, and Sexual Development of children. Pertinent information about each topic is explained to school staff and helpful, relevant tips for assisting students are shared. Teachers are also given an opportunity to discuss issues present in their classrooms and receive guidance from the UCDRC counselor to properly address their imminent needs. Immaculate Conception teachers and staff realize the importance of social and emotional health as a foundation for successful academic development. The monthly professional development sessions have been very beneficial.

For More Information

Please contact Rhonda Mercs ( if you would like more information on training sessions at your school.

Learn about the UCDRC >>