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Weathering the Storm of COVID-19 and Charting a Path Forward in Uncertain Times

Keynote, November 10, 2020, 9:15 am - 10:00 am

In this keynote address, Dr. Fiat will use research to highlight the importance of paraeducator mental health and will introduce a practical framework for enhancing psychological resilience in the face of Coronavirus. Tasked with supporting the social-emotional, behavioral, and learning needs of students, paraeducators play an essential role in schools. Though paraeducators unequivocally have one of the most challenging jobs, their positive presence helps to buffer the negative impact of toxic stress and trauma on students and their families. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced significant hardships for many paraeducators and for our profession as a whole. We are caught in the perfect storm of physical illness, anxiety, economic instability, social isolation, political polarization, and social unrest. Continual unpredictability paired with rapidly shifting situations can make it feel impossible to stay afloat, let alone navigate this unprecedented calamity to reach our goals. Anchored in research on wellbeing and resilience, the Seven C’s is a novel coping framework designed to help educators and caregivers survive and thrive during the COVID-19 crisis. During this keynote address, attendees will receive an overview of the Seven C’s and learn how applying them can reduce stress and improve overall mental health. The cascading effects of improving paraeducator mental health on the social-emotional and behavioral functioning of students will be discussed. Attendees will also leave this keynote with concrete ideas for contributing to a positive school culture while continuing to advance their professional goals.

Aria Fiat