Students First – Focus on Social Emotional Learning

Mental wellness is a top priority for CCPS this school year. A focus will be on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) which is the process of developing and using the skills, attitudes, and knowledge that help youth and adults to:
• Identify and regulate emotions
• Develop positive relationships
• Make responsible decisions

There are five SEL priorities being implemented throughout CCPS this school year:
1. New Student 30-60 Day Check-In
2. Handle with Care
3. Buddy Bench and We Dine Together
4. Principal-led SEL Video Announcements
5. Panorama SEL Student Voice Survey

Last week, I shared information related to the New Student 30-60 Day Check-In. This week, we’ll talk Handle with Care and Buddy Benches/We Dine Together.

Handle with Care will be implemented in elementary, middle, and high and focuses on student safety and mental well-being. It is an alert to staff regarding a student who has experienced a recent traumatic event. It is a just-in-time intervention that is situational to the student. Teachers will utilize trauma sensitive interventions – such as predictable classroom routines and transitions, positive communication, the anticipation of challenging times, and additional support to the student – and look for observable signs of student distress, such as change in personality or disengagement. Teachers will utilize the school psychologist or counselor for assistance and support.

Buddy Benches will be utilized at the elementary level. This priority focuses on social awareness and friendships on playgrounds, while promoting an inclusive school community. A Buddy Bench is where a student can go when he/she feels lonely at recess. It can serve as a gathering place and symbolizes a welcoming and inclusive environment on campus. Friendship ambassadors will be trained to look around from time to time to see if a classmate is using the bench and invite him/her to play. The ambassadors will also help contribute to the overall positive school culture by modeling inclusivity.

At the middle and high school levels, a new club called We Dine Together will be implemented.

This priority fosters social awareness, advocacy, acts of kindness, resilience, and inclusivity. The student club includes a faculty sponsor, a Be Strong State Representative student nominee, four student leaders, and student club members. The mission of the club is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is sitting by him- or herself and engage in related activities. Through the club member’s positive engaging actions, students will be able to assimilate into the school culture, form friendships, and learn to accept one another.

Our SEL series will conclude next week as we review the final two priorities, Principal-led SEL Video Announcements and the Panorama SEL Student Voice Survey.

Jennifer L. Kupiec is the Specialist, Communications & Community Engagement Collier County Public Schools

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