Considering the Social and Emotional Health of our Students, Colleagues, Families, and Ourselves
It is the firm belief of the NYCDOE that an environment cannot be supportive if it is not culturally responsive. Culturally responsive environments “affirm racial and cultural identities; develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices; and empower areas of social change”. To advance equity, now, and to be culturally responsive, we must ensure that we are creating supportive environments for our students, families and staff during this critical time in our nation.
A supportive environment also comprehensively supports a young person’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. As school communities, we must seek to support the whole child, caring for them as people and helping them develop a strong foundation of emotional skills to cope with challenging situations, resolve conflict, and build healthy relationships.
The protests that have gripped our city and nation reflect the hurt, anger, and pain of generations of racial trauma. Emotional responses may manifest in different ways, including anger, irritability, grief, and hopelessness. We should be aware of signs of trauma or distress not only for our youth, but also for ourselves and our colleagues. We should also be aware of effective strategies that school communities can implement to support children and families who are struggling.
- Instructional Leadership Framework: Physical and Mental Wellness; Safety and Restorative Approaches to Behavior
- Supportive Environment Framework: Know Every Student Well
To tackle these challenges, the Supportive Environment Framework and the Instructional Leadership Framework establish clear priorities, rooted in research-based practices, that are interconnected: no single priority can be achieved without creating a supportive environment and setting rigorous expectations for every student. The Instructional Leadership Framework’s priority of Knowing Students Well, for example, requires us to have candid conversations about the way racism and systemic oppression impact us and identify the unique needs of individuals and communities, which are explored in depth in the Supportive Environment Framework. The concrete practices offered in these Frameworks can support schools to engage in critical conversations about race, support positive identity development, process emotional responses to trauma, and think critically about power, social justice, and oppression.
Overall Essential Questions
- How can we support students through this trauma?
- How can we leverage restorative practices to promote healing, community, and student voice?
- How can we attend to the mental, emotional, and physical wellness of our students, colleagues, families, and communities?
Social-Emotional and Wellness Supports
How can I support students, colleagues, families, and ourselves through this trauma?
NYCDOE Restorative Practices Web Site Restorative Circles provide a space for our students to express themselves, learn to listen, and build a sense of community. This practice helps build a strong school culture that students can rely on and return to in times of trouble.
NYCDOE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Instructional Materials Each grade-band folder on TeachHub App Center has a “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL) folder that includes resources to facilitate SEL instruction via remote learning, sample weekly SEL plans for Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) or remote learning, and resources for adult SEL and wellness as well. Schools can use the Sanford Harmony, Restorative Practices, Ruler, Health Education and other SEL strategies outlined here as the structure to facilitate necessary conversations and provide support.
Learn at Home Health and Wellness Activities Student and family-facing wellness activities, aligned to each domain of the Supportive Environment Framework, are publicly accessible on the Learn at Home site (materials for middle and high school students will be posted soon). These resources can help students and families manage stress, explore emotions, and strengthen relationships that provide support during challenging times.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports/Restorative Practices For support in using a virtual classroom community building circle to reflect on and address racism.
Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: a Resource for Educators This resource from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is designed to help educators understand the interplay of race and trauma in the classroom. The guide reviews historical trauma and racial trauma, explains the impact of trauma on different age groups, and offers supplemental resources.
Online Support Circles in Response to Social Distancing Online support Circles begin with a welcome that conveys a sense of hospitality and honoring of those present. The welcome also includes clarifying how the Circle process works and the order of speaking.
Psychology Today: Healing through Social Justice Healing through Social Justice, Understanding wellness through liberatory frameworks provides articles and steps for cultivating hope during times of distress and provides self-care strategies for adults.
NASP: Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Trauma This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists provides a brief review of anger—a common reaction to trauma—and reminds adults of how the reactions of children and youth are influenced by adult responses
Mindfulness Techniques for Students and Staff Calm Classroom is a simple and accessible way to integrate mindfulness into the classroom or home culture. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to our present moment. The daily practice of mindful breathing, stretching, focusing, and relaxation exercises cultivates a greater sense of self-awareness, mental focus, and emotional resilience within educational and personal spaces.
Helping Your Child Cope with Media Coverage of Community Racial Trauma: Tips for Parents Short video with excellent recommendations for parents and teachers alike. Can be subtitled in multiple languages. Estos videos pueden subtitularse en varios idiomas.
Black Professionals Are Going Through A Lot “We Are Not Ok” explores trauma and professionalism and how Black employees may be experiencing a more traumatic and heightened reality due to their lived experiences of being Black.