Attention to Social-Emotional Wellness
While academic learning will be important this fall, we cannot overemphasize the need to focus on the social-emotional needs and wellness of our students and staff. Intentional planning work is underway to support both staff and students, with particular attention to well-being through a trauma-informed lens. An SEL & Wellbeing Advisory Group will provide further guidance in the coming weeks, including a collection of resources to support staff, students, and families. In addition, the district is implementing Second Step, a social-emotional learning curriculum, for kindergarten - 8th grade, and high school students have access to their grade level counselors.
This focus on SEL will be in place regardless of our instructional model this fall. A great deal has happened since we last gathered in schools, and the traumatic impact and stress related to these events will be real and likely very personal. While a return to school will be joyous for many, it may at times lead to uneasiness, sadness, and even anger - particularly given new precautions and parameters that will be in place. An intentional focus on relationships will be essential, and we will plan for dedicated time to get to know our students and build trusting connections as a learning community.
All staff will be encouraged to learn about trauma-informed practices and to approach situations with students and colleagues through a trauma-informed lens. Social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction will be essential, and our planned Second Step implementation will provide guidance and structures for this work. Restorative circles are a valuable, proactive tool for building community and co-creating safe, supportive spaces, even online and/or with distancing guidelines. Regular mental health checks will be valuable, at the system and classroom level, to help us best support our students and staff.