The “triumph” during these last two school years was found in the little victories that I witnessed. I found myself falling back on the basics of social work, breaking down barriers, respecting the client and family, looking at situations that were fraught with difficulty, and continually finding new ways to help students succeed.
As a school psychologist and a 2nd year student in the School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program at Loyola, I am in the midst of a school change project in my small rural school district. The project I’m steeped in is to build teacher capacity to implement a tier I social and emotional curriculum in our 4 year old kindergarten through 6th grade classrooms. Professional development and on-going training is a big part of the success of this project. As we train our staff to teach the SEL curriculum to our students, we can’t neglect to acknowledge that to teach SEL to students, we as adults must be competent in our own social and emotional awareness and abilities. If we engage our staff in ongoing adult social and emotional learning, we will hopefully foster a supportive environment not only for students, but for staff as well.
Whether you’re a school social worker or a teacher, you’re in a very important line of work responsible for the education and well-being of our youth and our collective future. Of course, doing this work involves a lot of stress and likely poses daily challenges for us that can start to build up if we don’t make a conscious effort to maintain our mental health. This week on SSWN and SSWNetwork, we will provide suggestions and examples for improving your own mental health and supporting the growth of a school staff’s well-being, breaking down the barriers getting in the way of implementation, and research on the topic to illuminate the realities of mental illness and self-care.