Virtual Meetings (April through August 2020)
Resources from Previous Virtual SSN Meetings:
April 8, 2020 – Pedagogy of Connection
We held our first virtual SSN meeting and we featured three NJ schools and districts to learn what they have been doing to stay connected to students, staff and families. Dr. Saskia Brown at Sparta Township Public Schools, Todd McCabe at Riverview Elementary and Joanne Hozeny at Mount Prospect Elementary School shared all of the wonderful work that is taking place during this unprecedented time. And although we heard three different perspectives from three different counties, we heard a lot of common themes such as CONNECTION, FLEXIBILITY and COMPASSION. All three have been very intentional in identifying clear goals and expectations, establishing communication guidelines and ensuring that all stakeholders feel supported. They also shared the importance of planning ahead so that we are prepared for the next academic year with appropriate transition plans and even expanded services, where appropriate.
Some of the highlights from the three districts and schools include:
- Bi-weekly guidance mini-series featuring topics such as stress management and internet safety
- Todd McCabe’s YouTube channel featuring a variety of videos that include stories, short SEL lessons and funny anecdotes
- Virtual recess with the school lunch aides
- Weekly meetings with SEL team members
- Teachers sharing personal anecdotes and photos
- Principal challenges including a fun Lego challenge
- Riddle of the day
- Virtual STEM fair
We wrapped up our sharing time by touching on some of the positives that have come from this situation…more time in our pajamas, less time commuting, and a new perspective that allows us to examine our priorities and what matters most.
April 22, 2020 – Drop-in Meeting
On April 22, 2020, we held a drop-in style virtual SSN meeting where everyone shared one thing that has improved for them over the last few weeks and/or unique things they have been doing to stay connected to students, staff and families. Some of ideas/thoughts shared include:
- “Video Lunch Bunch”
- “Cyber Circle”
- Hand-written notes to students
- Virtual Spirit Days
- An idea for engaging non-responsive students is to start using the gradebook again and/or find someone else in the district who the student has a deeper connection to the family to reach out.
Resources: Parent Learning Module, Comprehensive School Suicide Prevention in a Time of Distance Learning, Conducting School Suicide Intervention in a Time of Distance Learning: An Intervention Checklist, Preparing for School Suicide Intervention in a Time of Distance Learning: A Prevention Checklist, The Germ Called Coronavirus: A Short Guide for Children, The Story of the Oyster and the Butterfly: The Coronavirus and Me, Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook: A Tool to Help You Build Resilience during Difficult Times”
May 5, 2020 – “Self-Care in the Age of Distance Learning”
Research says we must feel safe and connected with those we are with, and in the environment we are in, to best learn and retain information – that is more important now than ever before. Naming how we feel can deepen the connection within self and support the notion of our “feeling felt” by others. The May 5th SSN workshop explored the critical importance of adult self-care and strong SEL skills during this time of change and distance learning. Four different tools educators can use to help encourage and promote self-care were explored in breakout sessions.
May 20, 2020 – Drop-in Meeting
On May 20, 2020, we held a drop-in style virtual SSN meeting with breakouts where participants shared what their (school/district) plans for the next month to close out the school year and what their school/district is thinking about starting back next fall.
Resources: CASEL brief, “An Initial Guide to Leveraging the Power of SEL as You Prepare to Reopen and Renew Your School Community”, “State Actions to Support Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: Fostering Connectedness in the Pandemic Era”, Letter sent to the Governor’s Association advocating for SEL to be included in any COVID-19 related education funding, SEL and Arts Education: Navigating Uncertain Times, Preparing for the Future (Webinar On-Demand), and Resource for Virtual Field day
June 3, 2020 – Drop-in Meeting
On June 3rd, we held a drop-in style virtual SSN meeting with discussion around the following questions: In the wake of the current national unrest and increased awareness and need for discussion and learning about equity and racism, has your school/district taken any steps? What are the plans? What do you feel needs to be done? What support do you need? What do you feel will be the impact on the students? On their families?
Resources: “When schools reopen, their doors must open equally to all”; “Creating Equitable School Climates: How states and districts are weaving equity into their efforts to improve climate”; Teresa LaSala’s Respect Impact vs Intent Activity; and Books and Resources to Support Conversations on Equity, Racism and Resistance
June 24, 2020 – Meeting for District and School Level Administrators
As new guidance is made available from the NJ DOE for the upcoming school year, we expect that district and school administrators will be busy during the months of June and July creating their plans for the launch of the next academic year. Participants shared ideas and brainstormed some new ideas for making the most of a challenging situation.
Resources: Join SEL4NJ; “So You Want to Talk about Race” by Ijeoma Oluo (book for staff or older students)
July 15, 2020 – Meeting #2 for District and School Administrators
Now that the new guidance is available from the NJ DOE for the upcoming school year, district and school administrators are busy creating their plans for the launch of the next academic year. Participants expanded on conversations we had during our June 24th meeting. Participants shared some ideas and resources their districts are considering and/or working through as they plan.
Resources: CASEL’s “Reunite, Renew, and Thrive: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Roadmap for Reopening School”; Move This World’s “Toolkit: SEL Planning for Reentry”; School Climate Assessment Lab Overview; How SCCI Partners with Schools; and Professional Development available through SCCI
August 26, 2020 – Kickoff for the 2020-21 School Year “Building Connections, Relationships and Trust”
We explored ideas for how we ensure that we start the year off on a positive note and build the necessary connections with students and families. We discussed how we maximize connection and engagement – not matter what format our classrooms are for the start of the year.
Resources: Move This World’s “Toolkit: SEL Planning for Reentry”; School Climate Assessment Lab Overview; How SCCI Partners with Schools; Professional Development available through SCCI; New Sustainable Jersey for Schools Funding Opportunity Available! 2020-2021 Grants Cycle Funded by NJEA