SEL expert Lulu Luckock is a consultant to schools and youth organizations throughout the UK. In this episode, Lulu discusses the important role that emotional intelligence (EQ) plays in social-emotional learning — and shares why supporting our students, their families, and teachers to develop emotional intelligence is more important now than ever.
Learn more about Lulu Luckock at http://www.lululuckock.com.
You're listening to the Voices in Education Podcast powered by Securly, where we hear from new voices and explore new ideas about how we can reimagine education to support whole student success. Education is at an inflection point. As we grapple with complex challenges like funding and enrollment, as well as diversity, equity, and safety. We also have an opportunity, an opportunity to reimagine education. Now more than ever, we know the importance that students’ overall wellbeing plays in their success. They need to feel supported and safe and connected to be able to engage in their learning and achieve their full potential. Join your host, Casey Agena, a former teacher turned instructional coach and technologist. As he interviews inspirational educators, school leaders, wellness professionals, and more to amplify their voices. You'll learn about the innovative work they're doing to support student safety, engagement and overall wellness. And who knows, you may even spark a new idea of your own. Ready to reimagine education? Let's go.
Welcome to episode four of the Voices in Education Podcast powered by Securly. I'm your host, Casey Agena, and in today's episode, we'll be talking with Lulu Luckock from across the pond and her role as an SEL expert and working with K-12 institutions and organizations. Listen in as Lulu and I talk about mental health as it relates to students, teachers, parents, and even shares a little bit of insight into her own life and the impacts that student wellness has had on her. Welcome Lulu and glad to have you here.
Good evening. Thank you, Casey.
So many of our listeners are around the globe and we all have been impacted in some form of fashion over the past 24 months. As you know, children, their families definitely educators and their communities are challenged and continue to be. Even as we look back over the past 24 months, tell us a little bit about your work, particularly in the UK and the children, their families, and the communities that you support.
Thank you for that introduction. And it's great to have this opportunity to talk with you. The pandemic has obviously had a massive impact on everybody's lives and it's pushed people in areas they never dreamt that they would go in. Which to a degree has for many of us has left some impact and some form of trauma. It very much depended upon what boat you were sailing in as to your experience of that journey over two years. Many people's experience of it was deeply troublesome. And the impact of that is being seen in schools with children, either missing out on chunks of their education or the impact on their emotional wellbeing, needing its residue.
I support whole school communities to embed within their community, a way to develop their emotional literacy and their emotional intelligence. Enabling children to get emotions out of the cupboard and into the classroom, and to be able to develop nuanced vocabularies, to be able to really hone in into the way they are feeling. Because that's proven to be incredibly necessary to help children. So therefore I'm involved in the development of resources and a curriculum to help schools to do that with ease.
Emotional intelligence is for me key to the future of social-emotional learning. Because at the moment we're living in a fairly broken society, where in my opinion, education is no longer fit for purpose. It's not serving our children and our children are the future. And we need to be giving them the tools that they need to navigate a complicated and emotional world, one that at the moment, endlessly being assessed for their real intent and purpose doesn't have its value. And for me, Social-emotional learning is teaching children a broad spectrum of different tools to help them help themselves. It involves learning about equality, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. I've written a few down: respect for each other, critical thinking, the celebration of diversity, how to collaborate, how to set goals, how to develop their self confidence.
Because more than anything, we need to celebrate our children. And we need to tell them how amazing they are, how fabulous they are, then we see them and they're important. And that they have the gifts and the skills that nobody else has. And we need to put hope back into schools. And for me, what I've observed most over the last few years, since my work as a consultant in schools, is that sadly children no longer feel safe at school. And they need to feel safe at school, and schools need to develop to become community hubs.
Because there's less community in our world now than really there has been for a time with the demise of religion, really. I believe that schools, resources are underused, and I believe that they could be used more efficiently so that they serve their local community. And they're somewhere safe for children and adults and mothers and parents to go where the extension of that social and emotional learning could take place. And children can learn to cook, they can learn to garden, they can learn to sing, to dance, to find joy and be together with other people. You're going to say something in case I leave.
This is really about the DNA of a school, this whole-school approach. And I'm thinking about that word whole, and what that means. I think we have some thoughts about what whole school means. Tell us a little bit about that and how that may either be in sync or possibly go against the grain of what formal education and primary and high school is in the UK.
Well, the whole-school approach is supporting the teachers first. The teachers then take the approach into the classroom and teaching the children and alongside that, supporting the parents and the caregivers of those children. So that everybody is doing the same thing, and everybody benefits from it. One thing that's really been highlighted, I'm sure it's the case in the states, is that teachers now assume this enormous role where they've become social workers. And they aren't trained to support children and parents in the way that they're being asked to at the moment. Many teachers are leaving the profession because they're overwhelmed too much, and they don't have the support that they need themselves. So this Whole-school approach means that they get support, they get heard, they get to express themselves.
I hear many of the examples you gave about self and our emotional awareness and emotional intelligence. It's not just the students, it's even the adults, teachers, as you pointed out where there's, as we're seeing many of them burn out, you could say for one reason or another. And how that is affecting their outlook on education, families, decisions that they are making for their children on what school they're going to go to and what not. How have you seen where the emotional impacts have made an impact on adults in the communities that you work with their teachers or parents?
Well, certainly for parents during the first wave (of Covid), there was this huge sense of overwhelm and it was extraordinary what people were able to achieve. And what they had to set up, what they had to stand up and do by educating their children at home. And again, it depends on what boat you were in, if you were in what sort of school your child was at as to what resources you had. And that's what I mean as too many children have missed out on bits of education, which they'll no longer necessarily be able to reclaim.
Although I would say that schools are doing their very best and doing a fantastic job. But I just don't think that they have the support that they need. They are having to talk to teachers. They often feel they're running a marathon on a daily basis where they have so much to achieve, to tick the boxes that are required. But that doesn't necessarily give space or time for them to look after themselves or to look after the emotional wellbeing of the children. And again, it goes back to that, but if those children aren't in an emotional safe space, then they're not going to learn.
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And now back to the interview. Where I live, I mean, we see the struggle and the challenges in our schools, in our communities. I'm wondering where those successes are, that we can also look at where, hey, there's been some challenges, but here's what a school community did to make some gains. Here's some examples of what a school and community did to address overtly some of these issues and impacts that the pandemic has had on our students and our teachers. What have you seen in the UK where they really made some strides and attempts to do this?
It's an interesting question. I think that schools have had to look at themselves, look at what they have on site, the resources that they have within their teaching body. And they have had to put in place a better way to teach their children, their pupils, how to manage their emotions, how to self-regulate. They're no longer necessarily outsourcing it because it had such an impact on so many people that they had to look within. And develop their own structure around how they could help support their children, their pupils, to manage the difficulties and the trauma that they experience by being out of school for so long.
So I've been impressed by that, actually. It was apparent the writing was on the wall, that many of those children would go back with social anxiety and inability to focus and to concentrate, a fear of having missed out. And certainly, initially when the children did go back into school, there was a real sense of nurture and support and kindness being shown to all children. If only that could be the way all the time that many of those pupils would flourish better. But unfortunately, because of the system, there is not enough space in my mind for that nurture to take place.
Well, I think you alluded to it earlier about pre-pandemic. I'm like, you know what, the education system was and what the pandemic and remote learning and shutting down cities, what that not just brought in. But maybe amplified what challenges that had already existed, but it just really came to fruit and even larger. And there's this now almost opportunity to have this inward look on what are the things that are really important from a humanistic standpoint? And how are those principles of self-care really knowing about goal setting? And those particular pieces give us an opportunity to... I hate to say the word, fix a broken system, but maybe even pivot to a new way.
I agree wholeheartedly.
So to speak of doing it.
I agree wholeheartedly. We really need to rethink education. We really need to start to give our children the tools that they'll need to build happy, fulfilled lives that have joy and kindness in them, especially with their lives. Well, with AI on our heels, who's going to be doing those robots, are going to be doing a lot of the work… that these children are being tested for. So that makes absolutely no sense that we continue to educate in a way that we've been doing for decades. For what end result, a fairly broken society, a polarized society where people build barriers rather than open gates. It's a perfect storm, but I believe that actually it's rather in a garden, sometimes you have to prune a rose right back to its roots, to be able to enable it to flourish. I think it's going to be very uncomfortable what we're going to go through over the next stage. But I believe strongly that as you said, and we agree, this could give opportunity for regrowth and a rethink.
We can get those children back to living life with its ups and downs, with its good bits and its bad bits. But life as it is rather than as we wish it to be. But because our society is the way it is and has been built on suppressed emotions and money. And I think that for me, actually, Casey's been one of the interesting things is that I don't think this generation of people who are going into the workplace now are looking for the same steps to success as people before them were. They no longer care so much about the salary and the job title. What they're more interested in is if they're working for an authentic company that represents themselves as a person. Where the same purpose is aligned with that more authenticity, more communication, more trust, more truth. I think we're seeing that coming to the surface, and I think that's really exciting.
Even myself, I think about my own work and what it means. Maybe not only to myself, but to my three children, right? What does dad do and why does he do it?
And sometimes we forget about that, too, in terms of the role of a parent. And how that is even reflected on the children and their perspective on what goals that they may have, aspirations they may have. Their self-awareness of who they are and how they fit.
But it's also very important that parents, as role models for their children, are now becoming more able to express the way they really feel. Show the children that it's okay to feel sad. You don't want to get stuck in sadness.
It's okay to be sad.
And in teaching role modeling those different uncomfortable emotions, you are showing your children the strategies that you use to help them to navigate tricky times.
Yes. Well, I want to highlight a couple of things that you pointed out and it really helped me. I was thinking about the work you were doing around that idea of whole school and communities. Idea of getting life back on track through the lens of, of course, our work and working with students, families, and communities and teachers. And self-awareness thinking about who you are and how that's reflected on students, listening to the students, their own goals that they can create that they can aspire to be. And how do we support them through that? That idea that it's not directed by a system or adults directing this, that we can have time to listen to them. And I think ultimately, there's this opportunity to then say, hey, we can do this in a different way. And a pandemic and what not has possibly highlighted that. So I want to thank you for your contribution to Voices in Education.
Thank you so much.
I want to thank the audience again for joining us for another episode and we will see you all again.
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