April 19, 2020

5 Resources to Support the Mental Well-Being of Your School Community

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When everything is said and done, you always remember the Caring, Trusting Relationships that helped you get through tough times. That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of the XQ School Design Principles. One of the ways to build them with students, families, and other educators is supporting their mental well-being. 

So this week’s issue showcases strategies on how to do that. And remember, you’re not alone. You can always lean on your XQ fam for support. 


CONNECT: HOW TO STAY SOCIAL WHILE DISTANT

While school building closures are the best option for “flattening the curve,” educators are working hard to mitigate long-term effects of the physical separation from school.  

Why it matters to students: School is more than a place to learn; it’s a place where students create relationships with peers and caring adults. These relationships help to develop healthy minds and bodies. More importantly, they can be life-saving, especially in tough times.

Why it matters to educators: Ensuring remote learning is successful requires much more training and support than teachers and school leaders can muster on an emergency basis. But that doesn’t mean educators won’t try their very best to be their best for students. 

EdSurge shares strategies to foster a sense of connection.

For students:
✅ Schedule time for small-group discussions between students
✅ Help students stay focused on goals and understand the relevance of work
✅ Articulate what they need to work on and why

For educators:
✅ Create teaching teams that work together across groups of students
✅ Ensure educators have social and professional connections 

Extra credit: Find more ways to prioritize human connection. 


Brian Stauffer / theispot

CHECK-IN: SUPPORTING STUDENTS MENTALLY & EMOTIONALLY

Educators are turning to digital tools that provide students with mental health support, including the incorporation of telehealth or teletherapy into the remote school day.

Why it matters: Too many students say they’re struggling with the loss of connections, experiences, and memories since school buildings closed. Edutopia spoke with educators, counselors, and therapists for tele-tips:

✅ Partner with local health orgs that have telehealth experience
✅ Be transparent with families about potential risks of virtual settings
✅ Consider phone, text, and letters as alternatives for students without access
✅ Be mindful of students adjusting to new circumstances like losing a loved one

Extra credit: See the apps & strategies educators recommend, and why. 


LOVE: HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS (TIPS FOR FAMILIES)

The results of a new survey asking 800 teens how they’re coping are staggering: 41% of students haven’t had school at all; more than 25% say it’s hard to find a place to study at home; and 40% say they’re more lonely than before. 

Why it matters: As students spend more time in isolation, take in more bad news, and adjust to new transitions daily, family time becomes vital for mental health. Although these Common Sense survey stats are daunting, the questions uncovered tips you can give families to use at home:

✅ Schedule quality time together doing fun activities
✅ Encourage students to talk to people they care about on the phone
✅ Acknowledge loss of important milestones

Extra credit: Get more mental health tips for families to support students at home.


APPLY: REMOTE LEARNING STRATEGIES FROM EXPERTS

Even your best, most accomplished students will struggle to succeed with remote learning if the current crisis leaves them with more responsibilities or added stress. What does that mean for your most vulnerable students? 

Why it matters: Challenges are magnified, especially in today’s climate. These challenges can compromise a student’s self-directed learning skills, executive function skills, and overall motivation to learn. The TeachLab podcast shares strategies to help students succeed:

✅ Ask both students and teachers what’s working and what’s not
✅ Use surveys as a quick way to check in with students and colleagues
✅ Reach out to students, especially those less likely to ask for help
✅ Provide a curriculum students can do asynchronously 

What is asynchronous learning: curriculum and coursework students can complete at their own pace, rather than in real-time

Extra credit: Hear advice from MIT experts who are veterans at teaching remotely.


MODEL: KINDNESS & POSITIVITY CAN GO A LONG WAY  

Schools across the nation are working hard to spread joy with and for their students through community-building, social-emotional learning, and a lot of positivity. 

Why it matters: Kindness goes a long way, especially when communities go to great lengths to show it. Teachers, students, and families can use all the motivation they can get. KnowledgeWorks shares a few ways educators are boosting school spirit nationwide: 

✅ Give extra support and professional development to educators
✅ Use a trauma-informed approach to teaching
✅ Encourage students to share what they’re grateful for
✅ Throw students a virtual spirit week

Extra credit: See how schools practice these strategies in action.


XQ X-tra

Dive deeper

Find out what schools can do to support social-emotional learning.
SEL is at the core of human interaction altogether. XQ researchers help put what that means during school building closures into perspective. 

See how the role of the student is shifting at schools across the nation.
The transition to remote learning has caused everyone to take on new or additional roles. That includes students, too. 

Tawny De La Peña

Senior Digital Copywriter, XQ Institute

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