The day that I received the news we would be virtual to start Fall 2020, from my school district, I tried to figure out ways to connect with students. In my search, I came across a post by Bridget Hills-Yoder. She shared in a Facebook Page by the Illinois Association of School Social Workers how to create your own digital office. After I read this post, I began to work on my own digital office and I received lots of positive feedback from colleagues. Therefore, I asked Bridget if she could kindly share further details. The interview is below:
We knew the kids were accessing wellness information (on our Clinician’s Corner site) when they started sharing personal struggles regarding mood, eating habits, and behaviors. Julie and I noticed that the kids were either commenting on not being active, their weight gain, or in their words, “laziness.”
Rather than viewing the pandemic and school shutdown as a professional dilemma, colleagues Lori Klein and Julie Robinson approached the situation as an opportunity. Lori, a School Social Worker, and Julie, a School Psychologist, expanded their reach by creating a virtual classroom. What started as a virtual lifeline grew into a live, interactive community focused around social-emotional competencies with a splash of fun.
As a member of the 2018-2020 SMHAPP cohort (c/o Loyola University – Chicago), I was asked to develop a ‘school change project.’ I was tasked with identifying a problem that I hoped to investigate, use research and data to develop a plan, implement said plan to address the problem, and report the results and insights gained. This is what I did and what I learned.
We had a spirited chat this past Monday as we all start to grapple with the questions around what it will take to re-open our schools in the U.S. safely? And importantly, what are the key components of trauma-informed care, SEL, and MTSS that can be brought into the conversation to make sure that our students, parents, and staff are ready for the many complicating issues that will come with re-opening?
My career in social work has led me to look beyond SEL evidenced-based programs to help support students but also to look for SEL programming that will also help support teachers in the school process through their own issues and obstacles when it comes to self-care and mental health.
In this SSWNetwork Zoom workshop, Technology Learning Coach Eric Santos and School Social Worker and SSWN Senior Contributor Marjorie Colindres provided a range of online tools and strategies that school social workers can use to provide services to their students and families during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ice Breakers are a great tool for social workers to use when developing rapport with students. These activities can be used in either individual sessions or for groups. Ice Breakers are used in a variety of settings and can be changed to fit the context they’re being used in. Using these activities during the pre-affiliation stages of therapy, there’s more of a likelihood that students will loosen up, build rapport, and show up more authentically in sessions.