Mira Costa’s Social Emotional Wellness Committee hosted its Teacher Fishbowl on Jan. 10 in the small theater, where 11 randomly-selected Costa teachers shared their views on stress and Costa’s atmosphere.
In 2015, a group of students, parents, administrators and Costa staff created the SEW in order to assess the school climate at Costa and to identify the root causes of student stress. The committee held a Student Fishbowl in Oct. 2016 in the Drama room, where students shared their opinions regarding common causes of stress.
“The fishbowl format is a great way to allow a group of people to share their thoughts without any interruptions and in a safe environment,” Manhattan Beach Unified School District board member Jennifer Cochran said. “The teachers’ opinion about the culture and atmosphere [of Mira Costa] was very similar to the students’ opinions that they shared during the first fishbowl.”
The SEW committee sent e-mails to teachers to notify them that the committee had selected them to participate in the Teacher Fishbowl. Junior Erin Pulver, a SEW committee member, moderated the event in which 11 teachers discussed healthy levels of stress for both students and teachers, as well as the commitments they have outside of school that contribute to their own personal stress. Participating teachers included English teachers Stacy Cabrera, Lindsey Valbuena and Nicole Wachell; science teachers Karl Kurz and Teresa Nielsen; Choir Director Michael Hayden; math teachers Dan Debevec and Lindsey Qerbash; College and Career Couselor, Caryn Ramierz; Shalyn Tharayil; and Student Academic Support teacher Cassidy Olson.
“I felt that [their] were fair in our assessments of Mira Costa, and I am hoping the Teacher Fishbowl provides more insight to teachers’ opinions,” Valbuena said. “Sometimes I feel as though teachers’ opinions aren’t as sought after as the opinions of others, so I’m hoping [this event] starts that dialogue.”
In addition to the Fishbowl, this year, the SEW Committee, English teacher Maddie Hutchinson and Academic Support Counselor Keshia Fields implemented Link Crew, a program in which Costa juniors and seniors help incoming freshmen adjust to high school. The scheduling committee is also discussing an alternative bell schedule for next school year in order to help further reduce student stress, Fields said.
According to Academic Support Counselor Eliza Santarosa, the SEW committee will use the teacher feedback to make future decisions on how it can foster a productive and supportive school culture at Costa and alleviate unproductive stress for both students and teachers.
“While teacher stress may come in a different form than student stress, they are feeling very much the same way,” Cochran said. “This is something that the Social Emotional Wellness Committee discovered very early on in the process of diagnosing the root causes of stress at Costa. It is very important that we take all perspectives into account as the committee makes recommendations for positive change.”