When schools open for the 2020-2021 school year, students will have endured at least six months of consistent change and instability no matter the socioeconomic status of their family. As educators, we must do what is needed to take care of ourselves socially and emotionally so that we will be able to focus on the needs of our students. Our students will have endured traumas that we can only imagine. Therefore, we are going to have to revise the SEL strategies that we used last year. We must come up with innovative ways to help us meet the needs and reach each of our students.
Tips for meeting the social and emotional needs of students in both a virtual and in-person school setting:
- Consider the physical and psychological safety needs of every student individually. It’s important to recognize each student’s unique needs and vulnerabilities.
2. Say “hello” to students as frequently as possible. This can be done via a video message sent through email or text, a traditional stamped
letter in the mail, arranging a drive-through visit in your student’s neighborhood, etc.
3. Reimagine temperature checks: It will be more important than ever that educators keep a pulse on the needs of their students. Just as
we will be taking the temperature of everyone who enters our buildings each day. Teachers will need to do social and emotional checks on their students daily. These can be completed verbally by asking students questions, through a Google Check-in form online, or through journaling where students are required to submit an entry and respond to 2-3 of their classmates’ entries.
4. Speaking with parents can also help educators assess the needs of their students. Consider holding bi-weekly forums/roundtable discussions with parents if you are teaching students virtually, recording announcements/weekly updates and e-mailing them to parents, and/or creating a weekly newsletter for parents to keep them updated on what their kids are learning. Teachers could also sign up for a Google phone number which can be used to communicate with parents and students. Relationships will be key no matter the educational setting.
5. Connect with your school’s leadership team (Principal, Assistant Principal, Vice Principal, and School Counselor) to make sure that
you are abreast of the protocols for meeting the social and emotional needs of students. Teachers are not equipped to meet all of the needs that some students will have. It will be important for you to know who to refer students to if an outside agency and/or assistance is needed that does not fall within your scope of work. When you speak with your administrator, be sure to ask for the protocols for both in-person and virtual teaching setting. If your school has not already communicated these protocols, offer to serve on the team to help
your school build these long-term capacities.
Bonus Tip: Engaging in collaborative problem solving will also be key to students social and emotional well-being. This will be a challenge for us in all settings. The CDC guidelines will require students to sit in straight rows facing forward, six feet apart. Don’t forget to have students turn and talk to each other. This can be done as long as students are social distancing. Students could also share their work with a neighbor by holding up work that is completed on a dry-erase board. After a student presents their work to a partner, feedback can be given. Virtually, students will be meeting via a computer and unable to communicate with their classmates effectively unless we plan for it. Some ideas of how this can happen include using virtual tables and/or virtual turn and talk partners. This can be done using breakout rooms via online platforms, having students message each other via the chat box, and/or setting up small group sessions with just a few students instead of having the entire class meet at the same time.
As always, I am placing additional resources below if you would like to learn more about this topic. Thanks for visiting my blog. Stay safe and I look forward to seeing each of you next Friday with Education Reflection Tip #67!!!
Resources to learn more on this topic:
For School Counselors: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors/professional-development/learn-more/virtual-elementary-school-counseling