Spotlight: Promoting Positive School Culture, Climate, and Safety During the Pandemic
Every day, education leaders work to create school communities in which all children and youth can thrive and graduate well-prepared for college and whatever challenges and opportunities the future brings. This enormous task grows more complex during times of uncertainty and crises.
Across the nation, educators recognize October as National Bully Prevention Month as well as the month in which we observe World Mental Health Day. In this post, we’ve curated a variety of resources, each designed to assist educators and other practitioners in an aspect of support for the whole child, especially during this pandemic. The resources present strategies to promote trauma-informed practices, resilience, and family engagement. We also offer insights aimed to help educators re-examine forms of school discipline and tactics used to ensure school safety.
Addressing Trauma and Promoting Resilience
Strategies for Trauma-Informed Distance Learning. To help educators use trauma-informed teaching practices in distance learning contexts, this brief offers some general strategies, with specific examples, for how to recognize and respond to students’ social and emotional needs while teaching remotely. The strategies are organized by neuroscientist Bruce Perry’s “3 Rs” approach to intervention: Regulate, Relate, and Reason. Download.
Six Strategies to Promote Student Resilience. In this short video from REL West, Dr. Flojaune Cofer of Public Health Advocates describes key actions in six areas that adults can use to address youth trauma and promote resilience. She concludes with three reflection questions to help educators and health and mental health practitioners refine their approaches to supporting all students.
Trauma-Informed Strategies for Building Relationships with Students. In this video, Dr. Sam Himelstein shares four research-based skills for building relationships with children and youth that promote healing from trauma: attunement, authenticity, deep listening, and skillful self-disclosure. A key takeaway is that effective relationship-building skills can be developed with intention and practice.
Mapping a Path Forward to Strengthen Resilience. In this video conversation, WestEd’s Jenny Betz speaks with Pia Escudero, the Executive Director of the Student Health and Human Services Division in the Los Angeles Unified School District, about how she is approaching the school year with a focus on resilience and collective care. Escudero shares how she and her district have looked beyond playbooks and checklists to create a model for psychological safety that takes a whole person and whole community approach.
School Social Work in the Time of COVID-19. REL West’s BethAnn Berliner recently interviewed San Francisco Unified School District school social workers Michelle Fortunado-Kewin and Jordan Shafer to find how they and their colleagues are managing their professional responsibilities in this period of school closure, when they and their clients are unable to meet in person. What they had to say may resonate and prompt new ideas for social workers and other support providers, as well as for teachers, in districts across the REL West region and beyond. Read.
Supporting Family Engagement for Student Success
Engaging Students and Families from Diverse Populations During COVID-19. This recent webinar addresses the importance of family engagement with diverse populations at all times and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The presenters describe research that supports the importance of family engagement with diverse populations, explain how engagement strategies need to shift in the context of distance learning, and spotlight the experiences of two districts that have worked to address this issue, including their successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Watch.
Reaching, Teaching, and Empowering Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Research confirms what families and teachers know through experience — that positive relationships between home and school are key to student success. REL West’s BethAnn Berliner spoke with two experts in home-school-community partnerships, Gloria Corral and Patty Chavez. Corral is CEO and President, and Chavez is Director of Policy, at the California-based Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), a statewide family engagement and empowerment organization serving about 20,000 families a year. Here’s what they had to say.
School Discipline and Police Presence in Schools
How Are Suspensions Related to School Climate in California Middle Schools? This report analyzes recent trends in suspension rates and in school climate at the middle school level in California. The report explores how recent changes in suspension rates relate to changes in school climate. Key finding: Overall, the analyses indicate that school climate improved most in schools that also experienced the greatest declines in out-of-school suspension rates. There was no evidence to support concerns that reductions in suspension rates would lead to reductions in school safety. Read.
School-Based Law Enforcement. A new REL West research brief summarizes the evidence on school-based law enforcement and its impact on school safety as well as racial differences in how school-based law enforcement is experienced. It also includes strategies for districts that are considering, or that already have, a law enforcement presence on school campuses. Read.
Professional Development Opportunities
Are you searching for assistance in improving school climate and wellness in your school community? Based on extensive research about non-instructional factors that influence student learning, and drawing from WestEd’s broad experience working on these issues with schools, districts, and counties, the School Climate and Wellness Partnership (SCWP) helps clients move the needle on school climate and wellness, tailoring services to the clients’ needs, priorities, and realities (e.g., budget, time). Get more details about SCWP services.
Visit our Health, Safety, and Well-Being web page for more resources and solutions, and stay tuned for more discussion about health, safety, and well-being issues in our E-Bulletin and on social media — Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Posted on October 13, 2020