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Tools and Strategies
As school and district leaders plan for the the 2021-2022 academic year, use of an engagement survey or other check-in tool may provide useful information. The list below includes evidence-based resources. While the Colorado Department of Education does not endorse the external resources linked on this page, links are provided to help school and district leaders identify and evaluate resources.
[U.S. Department of Education School Climate Surveys, National Center]
Strategies for Wellbeing and Connectedness
Whether students have been learning remotely, through a hybrid model, or in full-time in-person instruction, educators are facing the challenges of re-engaging, managing behaviors that may have changed significantly during isolation, addressing inequities experienced by their students, and adjusting their own teaching styles. All students may experience differences in learning environment and structures. Re-forming relationships with peers they may have seen only online for a year, returning to an environment which has different rules and structures than they have experienced at home, and recalibrating their emotional and physical reactions may be hurdles many students face.
Strategies for Learning Settings:
Build and maintain trusting relationships between staff and students by regularly checking in on each student’s wellbeing, learning about their interests, and helping each student engage in school to find purpose/meaning in their learning.
Create space in classrooms or online that will allow for students to emotionally regulate.
Differentiate learning and allow for different expectations for students, keeping in mind that each student may be at a different point in their understanding and learning.
Encourage open, respectful communication about differing viewpoints.
Encourage student voice by inviting students to contribute to school and classroom rules as well as regularly seek input about the student experience.
Find a way for each student to fit into the class. Help students find purpose within the classroom and purpose or meaning for learning.
Help students rebuild a sense of confidence and competence.
Monitor for changes in behavior.
Provide opportunities for students to improve their interpersonal skills, such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, communication, negotiation, and sharing.
Provide predictability and consistency in daily routines to reduce stress and promote positive learning conditions.
Support students in developing the academic, emotional, and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.
Take time to cultivate wellbeing and attend to the increased mental health needs of students and staff by incorporating activities that give students and staff some relief from the daily stress.
Teach students to be mindful so that they have an awareness of their body - emotional warning signs, physical sensations that are produced by different emotional states.
Use effective classroom management and teaching methods to foster a positive learning environment.
- Be aware of students who may have challenging home environments that may be indicative of abuse and neglect. Assess students for abuse virtually and in person.
- Collaborate across school faculty and staff to make sure no student “falls through the cracks.”
- Communicate regularly with the school community (i.e., announcements, emails, online meetings, video messages, office hours) and encourage the use of student support staff to also reach out to students and families to promote a sense of community and belonging.
- Consider asking families about their needs connected to social-emotional wellbeing.
- Consider training for staff on how to identify signs of struggle in students and establish a clear referral process for teachers to report any students who need additional support.
- Create decision-making processes that facilitate student, family, and community engagement; academic achievement; and staff empowerment.
- Encourage the use of specialized support personnel (social workers, school counselors, psychologists) to reach out to students in-person, online, or via telephone.
- Monitor cyberbullying and create a space for reporting of harassment and bullying that takes place online or in school.
- Provide education and opportunities to enable families to be actively involved in their children’s academic and school life.
- Create clear communication to all staff regarding plans, expectations, reviewing needs, re-engagement, and any policies. When in doubt, over-communicate!
- Create opportunities for staff to engage in self-care as well as to build and maintain relationships with one another that allow for collaboration, idea sharing, and support.
- Create trusting and caring relationships that promote open communication among administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and communities.
- Educate school staff on strategies to effectively involve parents in their children’s school life.
- Identify, and help students identify, applications that can be used for meditation, calm breathing, and relaxation.
- Implement periodic personal check-ins among staff, faculty, and leadership personnel.
- Provide multiple options whenever possible for staff experiencing an impact on mental health so that their strengths might be leveraged in a different way.
- Provide professional development and support for teachers and other school staff to enable them to meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of children and adolescents.
For the longer term, beyond the reopening of the 2021-2022 school year, consider the need for on-going support for the wellbeing of staff and students.
- Connect with your community health center or local public health facility to determine their ability to share or provide counselors, crisis intervention, or other supports.
- Use United Way’s 2-1-1 to help expand school partnerships with community organizations. United Way 2-1-1 is a free, multilingual, confidential service that connects citizens to agencies and services that help meet the basic needs of students and their families.
- Colorado Crisis Services has a 24/7/365 helpline for anyone affected by a mental health, substance use, or emotional crisis. All calls are connected to a mental health professional who will provide immediate support and connections to resources. Walk-in crisis services are also available. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.
- School Based Health Centers are clinics that offer health services, mental health and other counseling to students in a number of school districts in Colorado.
- The Colorado Suicide Helpline lists contact information for those having or knowing someone having suicidal thoughts.
- Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Text telephone (TTY) 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
- For Español: Llama o envia un mensaje de texto 1-800-784-8255, presiona 2
- The Teacher-Educator Well-being Support Line at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center provides free, confidential crisis counseling for all educators and school employees throughout Colorado. A trained Crisis Counselor volunteer will listen and support 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week via telephone or text. Call 303-724-2500.
- Frontline Help offers free coaching sessions for frontline workers including educators who are dealing with COVID-19. Appointments are booked through the website.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health, Coping with COVID-19, provides information on social connection, as well as practical ideas for reducing fear and stress.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mental Health in the Workplace, lists practical ways to promote health and wellness in the work setting