All Posts By

Robin Glenn

How We Do It with Charles County Public Schools

In the second installment of BASE Education’s How We Do It webinar series, we speak to BASE partner, Beila Lugo –  the Mental Health Coordinator for Charles County Public Schools in La Plata, Maryland. Beila’s primary role as Mental Health Coordinator is to handle both risk and threat assessments, act as a liaison between school counselors and find programs and support for students. 

During BASE’s conversation with Beila, we learn about the school district’s journey to implementing social emotional learning, their experience with BASE and how SEL has impacted the students that make up Charles County Public Schools.    

Charles County Public Schools SEL Journey 

With two years of experience in this role, Beila has seen many changes within the school district as it relates to social emotional learning within the district’s schools. Initially, teachers were not providing SEL based instructions in the classroom. 

Depending on the school, SEL is taught in different ways. For example, elementary school students receive their SEL lessons at the beginning of school as a way to set the tone for the day. Each school has flexibility and autonomy as to how SEL is taught on a daily basis.  

SEL Implementation Hurdles

Beila notes that in the past educators viewed SEL education as a student services support staff’s responsibility and that she found it challenging to get both teachers and school administrators to “buy in” on incorporating social emotional learning into daily school curriculum. To alleviate this issue, Beila found administrators at the elementary level, who found immediate value in SEL and mental health teachings to speak to their peers on the impactful benefits it has in schools.

An additional challenge found within high schools is the fact that students have to earn credits for their coursework, which has caused an issue with daily implementation of SEL because it isn’t a credit based lesson. Due to that, it is being used on an individualized basis. 

As a potential way to combat this issue, Beila has recommended building out an SEL classroom period so students will have a structured amount of time in their school day for these important lessons. With a new superintendent and deputy superintendent who are on board with SEL in schools, Beila feels optimistic about her recommendation coming to fruition. 

How COVID Has Increased the Need for SEL

Since the school district’s return to in-class education, Beila has noticed students struggling with both transitioning back to life in the classroom and with their workloads. In addition, she notes that students at every age level have grappled with conflict resolution, depression and anxiety. When speaking about the younger students struggling with properly vocalizing their feelings, Beila notes, “they don’t have the words to maybe express themselves or the coping skills to be able to express themselves appropriately and manage their emotions.”

To help address this, SEL has been used in different ways. For example, within the district school counselors have used SEL based on need. Beila provides an example of this, “If a student has concerns with truancy, having them work through the truancy course and how their behavior affects not only right now for them, but also their future.” The needs based learning helps students understand how certain behaviors can impact themselves and others. 

Hopefully Outcomes Through BASE Usage

While still relatively early in their usage of BASE, Beila has high hopes for the platform and how it can greatly impact not just students’ educational career, but their overall wellbeing. “I know we focus very much on instruction and grades and achievement, but also developing long-term skills for their prosocial behavior.”

If you are interested in learning more about BASE, social emotional learning and our How We Do It webinar series, contact us today! 

BASE Education’s How We Do It Webinar Introduction

BASE’s How We Do It webinar series was designed to educate school districts on social emotional learning and how the lives of their students have changed through the use of BASE’s services. 

In each How We Do It webinar, we will speak with a BASE partner about their educational journey, where their interest in social emotional learning began and why they decided to partner with BASE for this journey. 

In the first webinar, we speak with Sue Rowe, the Director of Positive School Climate in Toledo, Ohio. Before becoming a Director of Positive School Climate, Sue was a long-time educator, working with special education students. 

The Beginning of Sue’s Experience With SEL 

According to Sue, Toledo’s journey toward using social emotional learning in its schools began pre-pandemic. At least 10 years ago, a women’s initiative group from United Way visited a school that Sue taught in and presented a proposal about exploring social emotional learning. Though Sue was not in attendance for that meeting, she agreed to learn more about it based on her colleagues’ interest.   

Sue and her colleagues searched through CASEL’s curriculum and felt drawn to the responsive classroom program as it spoke to them as educators. They wanted more than a lesson on respect, rather strategies and practices that could act as the foundation for their teachings. Taking part in training within the school, the trainings moved into an additional five schools, ultimately leading Sue and a former colleague of hers to become certified responsive classroom trainers

How BASE Is Being Used 

Sue was tasked with the responsibility of finding a social emotional learning based curriculum that could be implemented specifically for high schoolers who were a part of their schools in-school suspension (ISS) classrooms. Initially students in these classrooms would use this time to complete classwork, but the school’s educators wanted more.

Sue researched social emotional learning and found BASE. Stating that BASE felt like “a good match” that could be of great assistance in a high school setting, the curriculum allowed for instruction for both whole and small groups as well as individual students. 

How Do Toledo Educators Use BASE As A Whole Group Instruction Tool 

Currently being used on a smaller scale with ISS educators, many of the teachers have found that students are there due to disorderly behavior or anger. With that in mind, instead of doing individual work, each lesson is projected on a large screen and is used as an opportunity to have group conversations about the topics that are presented.

According to Sue, group work with social emotional learning has led itself to open and honest conversations among students. “Social emotional learning is not just a student thing,” says Sue. “We’ve all had moments of anger, we’ve all had moments where we’ve needed to have a conversation and discussion.” Starting these conversations at the school age can help students form healthy relationships with their emotions and to teach them how to better treat both themselves and others.

Greatest Impact Due to BASE

For Sue, BASE’s impact is twofold. Not only has social emotional learning greatly impacted students, it has also empowered educators. All of this has led to a positive work and school environment. “The biggest impact is just in the climate in general in our buildings,” says Sue. She concluded by saying, “I think that BASE has provided our teachers with the tools they need in order to start building those connections in a more genuine way.” 

If you are interested in learning more about BASE, social emotional learning and our How We Do It webinar, contact us today. 

4 Core SEL Practices For Visionary District Leaders

Response through the eyes of esteemed colleague Sheldon Berman. 

“A caring school community gives our students a vision of the way the world could be.” – Dr. Sheldon Berman, AASA Lead Superintendent for Social-Emotional Learning

Dr. Berman has been a trailblazer for effective SEL solutions and travels the country speaking on the fundamental necessity of a top-down approach to a positive district culture.

Social emotional learning has found its way into nearly every school district and has been met with either acceptance or controversial hesitation. 

In a presentation, Sheldon explains that there’s no tradeoff between social emotional learning and academic learning – a misconception among educators. Dedicating time to SEL in schools won’t have a negative impact on academic learning. In reality, a school district cannot be successful without both individual and academic learning. Not only is SEL beneficial for student’s wellness and academic success, it creates a strong leadership culture. 

Dr. Sheldon identified four Core SEL Practices for effective implementation.

  1.                 Teach Empathy and Social Skills

Part of the core elements of empathy and social skills include the ability to sense another’s experience and provide an empathic response, as well as developing the social skills needed to lead a productive life.

  1.                 Community Building

By instilling a sense of community in your students they will feel less isolated and better resourced. Through community building, a district-wide culture will develop. 

  1.                 Curriculum Integration

Whether sneaking SEL concepts into core content or doing concentrated self work through direct SEL learning, students can build and foster resiliency as well as adapt life and academic skills. 

  1.                 Service Learning

Giving back to the community fosters a sense of accomplishment. This is done when a students’ sense of self is strong enough to know they have something to offer others. When students are holistically prepared for life, their focus shifts to humanitarian gestures and charitable connections. 

The challenge arises with the question of “how?”

Buy-in, support and strong leadership are the cornerstones for success and begin with you. 

When you embody the culture you want to see in your district, the wheels of example are then put in motion. Through authenticity, passion and intention, your district can exemplify your vision.

As with anything new, SEL and culture-setting will likely be met with resistance and challenges. Sheldon specifically addresses challenges seen during his tenure.   

A few of these challenges include: confusion around when or how to align SEL with core instruction, teacher time constraints and misaligned core beliefs around culture, diversity, equity and inclusion. District members may also experience confusion about the culture of discipline, i.e. punitive vs. restorative.

Just as you teach your students to embrace their resilience and push through, your leadership relies upon you to also do the same. Effective implementations and outcomes are rarely easy and trailblazing is where you come in. According to Dr. Sheldon, here’s how to help the transition:

By creating safe and culturally responsive classrooms, students will engage and grow academically and teachers will grow through their student connections. From this safe space, students can understand the vision of their district leaders. When they know they matter, oftentimes, the future becomes a reality. 

Serving your students will require that your teams are offered high-quality, relevant professional development that supports your vision. When your teams see your investment in your vision and feel supported as a result of their collaboration, their buy-in will increase. 

Many know that qualified SEL programs can provide windows to futures. It can be a culture-builder for students, the community and your educators. When done well, and not as a box-checker solution, SEL can be revolutionary. It’s not impossible for students to be both academically sound and life-prepared. Through your leadership, you can actualize a district of wellness, cohesion and hope for the future. 

To hear how our partners have been visionary through SEL and their use of BASE, feel free to join us for a future How We Do It webinar

6 Phases of Your SEL Implementation

The mental wellness of students is often overlooked in favor of prioritizing high test scores and overall academics. However, what many educators may not realize is that when a student is mentally well, they are able to perform well in other aspects of their educational career. This is where BASE comes in. 

Built by educators and mental health professionals, BASE knows firsthand what it takes to reach a student on an emotional level. Helping students achieve mental wellness so they are able to be the best students they can be, is done through social emotional learning (SEL), which BASE knows all about. Through our implementation process, the experienced BASE Exceptional Services team will work with school districts, schools, and staff members to address their unique needs and customize a plan of action to introduce social emotional learning into teachers and students learning curriculum.

Let’s highlight BASE’s SEL implementation plan, phase by phase.

Phase One: School District Meeting 

The first phase of our implementation process involves a meeting to establish key figures and learning how BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants can be of assistance. During this initial meeting, we will meet with key school district leaders to learn more about them personally and to learn about their “why.” As in, why they are interested in implementing SEL into their school district. 

Phase one will provide our Exceptional Service Consultants with insight from the district about their vision for utilizing BASE. In addition, the Exceptional Service Consultants will be able to identify who the key school leaders are prior to meeting with them, which will take place during a later phase of the implementation process. 

Phase Two: School Administrator Showcase 

Phase two of the implementation process involves meeting with central figures, an overview of BASE as well as a time for collaboration and discussion. Key leaders who will be a part of phase two include elementary, middle and high school administrators. 

BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants will use this meeting as an opportunity to provide an overview of who we are, what we do, explain the importance of social emotional learning, as well as share the district’s vision for the inclusion of social emotional learning into the student’s curriculum. 

Collaboration will also take place, district administrators will have the opportunity to discuss how BASE will work for their individual school sites, as well as have conversations about firewords (words that bring attention to potentially harmful language) and determine which key administrators will receive BASE’s email alerts. In addition to who will receive email alerts, the meeting will also establish who the key leaders at each school site will be. 

Phase Three: Addressing the Needs of Individual Schools 

Individual schools have their own unique set of needs and those needs develop through factors such as location and demographics. During phase three, BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants will take the time to learn more about each school, developing ways to best support each individual school through SEL. Through these conversations, consultants will identify key school level leaders and discuss their roles in depth. 

Phase Four: Creating Individual Plans with Key Leaders  

During phase four of the implementation process, BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants will hold a meeting with school level leaders including MTSS, behavioral interventionists, special education teachers, as well as both school counselors and psychs.  

The purpose of this meeting is for the key leaders and BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants to create an individualized intervention plan for students with behavioral, mental health and academic intervention goals. Training will be provided to the behavioral interventionists and mental health specialists on BASE’s platform as well as brainstorm how BASE can be tailored to support the individual needs of each student.

Phase Five: Educator Onboarding 

During this phase, the Exceptional Service Consultants will work alongside educators from elementary, middle and high school for an onboarding process meant to review both the district and school level’s vision for BASE and define their own vision for BASE. 

Educators will have the opportunity to learn more about social emotional learning and create a clear vision on what their students need and how our Exceptional Service Consultants can assist. We will provide in-depth training to the educators, addressing firewords, how to leverage student responses in order to build relationships and how educators can use BASE to build stronger relationships with their students.  

Phase Six: Additional Support 

In an effort to continuously strengthen the SEL program, BASE’s Exceptional Service Consultants will provide follow up assistance to those within the school district in need of additional support. After the SEL program is implemented, the Exceptional Service Consultants will hold check-ins after 30, 60 and 90 days of use. These check-ins will help strengthen the program for the next semester and following school year. We will also schedule mid-year and end of year conversations to highlight the pros and cons of the program.

There are many pressures that students face, which is why social and emotional learning is needed now more than ever. BASE takes the guesswork out of SEL, providing students with authentic support. We tailor your specific implementation process to fit the specific needs of students, educations and administrators.  

Making Mental Health a Priority in Three Easy Steps

The term “mental illness” often carries a negative connotation, despite growing and progressive conversations surrounding it. The stigma with mental illness often generates buzzwords like incompetence, illness or imbalance from those who do not understand its inner workings. Because of the negativity surrounding mental illness, many shy away from seeking help or providing assistance to those in need.    

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” 

Kids who have high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) scores are in a constant state of fight or flight. This state can cause a tremendous impact on their ability to learn. In another study, two-thirds of the more than 17,000 participants had an ACE score of at least one, and 12 percent had an ACE score of four or more, which is thought to be a solid representation of society.  Mental wellness challenges are in your classrooms and your students need your help.

If we take the time to consider ways to remove the stigma in order to create an environment where those struggling with mental illness can better thrive, what if we were to reframe the idea of mental illness? Better yet, what if we were to replace the word “illness” with “wellness?” How would the perception then change?

With the name change, the term sounds approachable. For example, using the term mental wellness in a sentence makes the topic more palatable for students and adults alike: “Student mental wellness challenges continue to soar due to test anxiety, social media, and peer-related issues.” This subtle change may elicit a stronger response that can be fostered in a classroom.

Addressing mental wellness in the classroom is extremely crucial. Nearly 40% of students with mental wellness challenges drop out of school. Students are oftentimes too afraid to seek care, are not sure how to seek care or they do not have access to helpful resources. 

Schools can play a significant role in addressing student mental wellness. With daily exposure to trusted adults in schools, students have access to opportunities for identification, supportive messages and the chance for a referral. Research also supports that students are more likely to complete treatment when it is offered in schools.

Educators have both the right and the responsibility to make mental wellness a priority for their students in these steps.  

  • Identify your students who are struggling. Ask yourself, what do they look like? 

Students struggling with mental wellness may often appear withdrawn, agitated, angry, fast to react with extreme emotions, isolated, fearful and may be a high performing student with undue pressure. 

The average delay in the onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years, so being able to identify these traits in your students can jumpstart a process that could take up to a decade to occur. Students should not have to wait for help, and if they do, the reality is that they’ll be long gone from your influence by the time that happens.

  • Say something.

After identifying a potential student in need, you have to be willing to speak up, which oftentimes educators are fearful to do because of the fear that their words may not come out right or that they will make a problem worse. Start by saying something to the student indicating that you see them, they matter to you and that you truly want to help them.  

 A simple way to acknowledge your students covers four parts: 

  1. Notice them 
  2. State your concern (make it measurable, not judgment-based)
  3. Offer help through a conversation or a resource 
  4. Appreciate them

If we combine these parts, a conversation starter may look something like, “Hey [student name], I’ve noticed that you have been sitting alone most days of the week and I’m concerned that something might be weighing on you. Can I offer you some time to talk or let [counselor, for example] know that we’ve spoken? You matter and I appreciate your being a part of this class.”

  • Properly refer.

If they take you up on talking, have the conversation (only if you are comfortable). If they take you up on the referral, be prepared to send them to the proper referral source: counselor, social worker, psychologist or an administrator. Be careful of violating their confidentiality and let them know what you are doing – not because you are a reporter, but because you care.  Remember, if you offer the referral, follow up on the same day.

In three steps, you can make a huge difference in a students’ life.  As noted in literature, “no one who’s experienced significant adversity (or many ACEs) is irreparably damaged.” By providing children with responsive relationships and strengthening core life skills, we can prevent and counteract lasting harm. You don’t need to be an expert to make a difference, you simply need to be able to take the necessary steps that could positively impact their lives.

Test Anxiety

For students, it’s normal and even somewhat healthy to feel nervous about test taking.  Healthy nerves can help a student take specific measures for success such as sleeping well, studying and eating a nutritious breakfast the day of an important test.  Unfortunately, nearly 40% of the student population suffers from test anxiety, (American Test Anxiety Association, Dr. Richard Driscoll), which may often leave them feeling defeated, disappointed and disconnected from their education. 

Test anxiety is different from “normal nerves” in that it can be debilitating and often results in underperformance.  “Excessive anxiety can result in test failure, leading to excessive worrying or rumination (negative cognition) and an inability to concentrate further resulting in poorer academic achievement (Szafranski et al., 2012).”    

Affecting students on three different levels: physically, emotionally and behaviorally, test anxiety is not only difficult to avoid, but also takes a toll on a student’s academic success.  Let’s cover the three ways test anxiety can negatively impact a student. 

The physical symptoms of test anxiety are palpable and can appear in the form of a fast heart rate, nausea, upset stomach, headaches, faintness and shortness of breath.  In more extreme cases, the physical symptoms of test anxiety can lead a person to panic and feel as though they are dying.  

Emotionally, test anxiety works to enhance negative feelings that are already prevalent in the mind.  Fear, disappointment, regret, feelings of failure and a lack of confidence can lead a student toward giving up their academic career entirely. 

Finally, behavioral symptoms often occur when preparing for or taking a test that is causing a student anxiety.  Symptoms include, a lack of concentration, feeling distracted, avoidance from preparing for a test, boredom and fatigue while studying, a lack of sleep the night before a big test, blocked thoughts while taking a test as well as feeling frustrated or impatient afterward.  Behavioral symptoms are closely tied to thoughts that precede the behaviors and these thoughts often tell a student that they aren’t as smart as others or that they don’t have the ability to be successful.  Those thoughts and feelings play off of one another, triggering a spiraling loop. 

There are many causes of test anxiety, ranging from learning differences to fear of failure.  At the root of it all is mental wellness and effective decision-making, which ties into social and emotional learning (SEL).  “Studies have shown that emotionality, a classically conditioned reactive response to a threat, can be counter-conditioned using relaxation, mindfulness, and breathing techniques, along with study skills and SEL strategies to reduce test anxiety and improve test scores (Aritzeta et al., 2017; Bradley et al., 2010).”

Recently, it has become common practice for schools to use SEL in order to adequately prepare students for life, which is why it’s crucial for teachers to have the necessary tools in order to develop mental health strategies and evidence-based approaches for their students.  According to research, many students don’t get the help they need due to “(a) access barriers such as insufficient information about potential assistance and (b) personal barriers such as shame or lack of time for time-costly interventions.”  

With social and emotional learning available as a viable option for all students, test-anxiety can be combated through mental health approaches in conjunction with academic preparedness.  Many of the smartest students fail to see their potential and find their professional path because of test anxiety.  Many students aren’t taught the appropriate skills needed for success and they don’t know how to talk themselves down with coping strategies when the spiral begins.  Educators need to be able to identify test anxiety and offer solutions that can lead students to their academic potential and ultimately, to their success.  

The best SEL programs do their job and allow the educator to do theirs, which is to teach.

If SEL Is So Important, Why Can’t It Fit Into a Regular School Day?

With student’s mental health struggles on the rise, students are depending on teachers to not just educate them on math or English, but anxiety management too, especially because research shows that students are more likely to seek counseling when services are available in schools.  Counselors, social workers and psychologists are doing their best to assist all students, but with a 500:1 national average ratio respectively, much of the job also falls onto the educators. 

For the first time in history, 7-year-olds are being seen in emergency departments for suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors.  The mental health crisis is here and social and emotional learning, SEL, can be just the tool to help.  None of you are alone, even though it may feel like you are.

Social and emotional learning is a methodology that helps students comprehend their emotions and exhibit empathy for others.  These teachings help students develop responsible decision making skills as well as build positive relationships with themselves and with others.  SEL programs range from character education topics such as friendships all the way to depression, self-esteem and suicide prevention. 

Not all SEL is created equal and time spent in a meaningful program is critical.  The challenge of fitting this into each school day can be mitigated by adding a period into each week.  If SEL were to have a dedicated time and place, students would have the ability to receive in-depth and intentional instruction.  With this time and privacy, students would have access to deeper thinking about future goals, motivation and personal mental health.  

Some schools say that they have their mental health teachings in check, however the majority are hanging on by a thread.  “Research clearly demonstrates the significant role of SEL in promoting the healthy development and academic achievement of all students. It also shows that SEL reduces problem behaviors and emotional distress that interfere with the learning and development of some students. Research also indicates that SEL programming significantly raises test scores while it lowers levels of emotional distress; disruptive behavior; and alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use.”   

Why is a subject that is so important, so difficult to implement into a school’s curriculum? 

There is a rising movement to embed SEL into core curricula.  Tom Joad from “The Grapes of Wrath” can be a prime talking point for conversations about resilience and forward thinking.  Geometry can be a concept akin to the importance of balance and middle ground.  These conversations are a good start, but what do we do when a student doesn’t want to speak out loud in front of their peers?  What if a student is suffering from more than a lack of “grit?”  Research shows that approximately 49% of K-12 students may face a mental health condition during their time in school.  This means that while the Tom Joad conversation is a nice one to have, it’s not getting to the core of what the 49% of students facing mental health conditions need to address. 

In a recent conversation with former United States Representative, Patrick Kennedy, he referenced a metaphor that he recently heard in which mental health was referred to as “the license necessary to drive the brain.”

We don’t receive adequate driver’s education by throwing in snippets about traffic signals during social studies or by discussing turning out of a skid in the middle of Shakespeare.  No, we create a space for this crucial topic because our kids’ lives depend on it.  With half of the K-12 students suffering from some type of mental illness and the other 50% needing to understand how to drive their own brains, how is tying in this type of license adequate enough in snippets?

Until education reform changes the mandates of everyday learning, snippets are all many of our students will get.  If you are in a position to change this and can be the gatekeeper for your students, you have more influence than you may realize.  We at BASE exist so you don’t have to do the work.  

While 10,000 hours is the measure to become an expert at something, one hour per week or two thirty-minute sessions behind the screen can begin to help increase your students’ engagement, academic success and can truly be a meaningful life-saver. We can’t prepare children for everything, but we have an obligation to do our very best.  

End of Year Spike in Heroin, Fentanyl, Pain Killers – in Everyone’s Backyard

What can you do about the it?

The BASE Solution

 

Stores are stocking their shelves for the holiday rush, and people are greasing the axles for the holiday spend.  Gearing up for the end of the year festivities is a customary part of American culture.  In line with the mad dash is the growing healthcare bottleneck of end-of-year medical procedures. 

The American healthcare system is one in which most plans have a deductible, the out of pocket spend that a person or family must meet before care is covered by the insurance plan.  Most people do not reach this deductible until the later months in the year.  Once this happens, it’s a mad dash to book procedures that can now be covered.

An area of receiving far too little attention, is that of the opioid spike at the end of the year.  In the United States, more than 142 million opioid prescriptions are written each year.  That’s 43.3 prescriptions per 100 persons.  Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medications that include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, among others, and have both benefits as well as potentially serious risks. However, too many Americans have been impacted by the serious harm associated with these medications, and despite ongoing efforts, the scope of the opioid crisis continues to grow.

Because opioids are so addictive, the propensity for misuse is extremely high.  People can become addicted even when following prescriber protocols.  When this happens, the process is painful and can be life-altering.  Not only does it happen to adults, but it’s happening in staggering numbers with our youth. Prescription medication overdoses among 12-24 year olds account for 1/4th of all drug-related ED visits.  As a result of the mad dash for insurance coverage, many of the prescriptions are being written at the end of the year.

How can educators help?

Continue Reading

3 Indicators That You’re in Need of an SEL Solution

Many school professionals have cited learning gaps, staff shortages, testing, and COVID-related issues as their many stressors that weigh heavily on a daily basis.  This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t include the very real pressure and responsibility of taking on student mental health challenges which continue to soar at epic proportions.

Most people admit that they expected the fall 2021 start to the school year to be closer to “normal” than it turned out to be.  If you’re barely getting by and your plate is full, rest assured, you’re not alone.

Many children’s hospitals have declared a state of emergency, seeing skyrocketing rates of self-injurious behaviors and suicide attempts.  Only two years ago, if a child under the age of 13 showed up in an emergency department for a suicide attempt, it was considered a rare event.  Today, children as young as seven years of age are attempting to take their own lives.  These wounded youngsters are walking through your doors and the need for mental health supports are paramount.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

State standards determine what SEL looks like in each state. Every state has comprehensive, free-standing standards for SEL with developmental benchmarks in preschool, however, just eight states have standards for SEL development for early elementary students and eight more expand their standards to K-12 grades.” 

This leaves blanks for teachers to fill as they grasp for resources. 

So how can you know when it’s time to implement social-emotional learning?

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Teacher ambivalence around SEL… Normal

When she went to graduate school to get her teaching degree, Tamara never imagined that she would be spending a good part of her career managing classroom-wide trauma.  “I spend an average of six hours per day in direct instruction.  Of those six hours, I probably spend at least two and a half hours having conversations with my students to break through barriers that are preventing them from learning.”

This phenomenon is all too common in classrooms worldwide.  Kids’ lives are complicated.  Anxiety, depression, and trauma are occuring in epic proportions.

The numbers are staggering, so what is a teacher to do?  Should they ignore the palpable distress in the classroom in favor of test scores or address the whole child?  Most educators will admit that getting through the basics of teaching is nearly impossible.  Students walk in the door carrying so much more than a backpack, this simply cannot be ignored.  Continue Reading