Self-Care and Self-Advocacy
The 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic has uniquely elicited a wide range of emotional reactions, potentially impacting all of the members of a school community. It represents a loss of our collective sense of safety and predictability. With the abrupt move to distance learning last spring, members of school communities have collectively struggled with meeting their own needs while fulfilling their roles as students, parents, teachers, administrators, etc.
This section aims to assist teachers and support staff in learning to prioritize caring for themselves as they support their students in returning to schools and classrooms that may look very different from the ones they left last March. They include self-assessments and supports, as well as supports provided by their districts or administrators.
The Professional Quality of Life Scale is the most commonly used measure of the impacts of helping others who have experienced trauma. It is self-scoring and available for free in a number of languages.
“Self-Care During COVID-19: For Everyone is a menu of research-based strategies for self-care including self-compassion, mindfulness, managing thoughts, finding balance, getting active and finding social connections.
Taking Care of Yourself is a one page handout from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for professionals working with children, including a definition of self-care and strategies, such as recognizing when you might be Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT).
Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Cope is a set of thirteen resources gathered by psychologist and Georgetown University faculty member, Dr. Jamela Barber and the Black Mental Health Alliance to address the trauma and emotional stress experienced by Black people who have been disproportionately impacted by the corona virus outbreak, along with the recent police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed to demand justice for his death.
Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 covers the negative impacts of stress, the range of individual reactions, how to take care of your mental health and healthy ways to cope with stress
Disastershock: Helping Our Families Deal With Traumatic Times is a free book that may be helpful in lowering your stress and the stress experienced by your students and your family members. It contains 24 different stress-reduction exercises, described in a clear, step by step that is easy to follow.
Teacher professional development on the importance of self-care should be provided by school-based mental health staff, including school counselors, school psychologists and school social workers, where possible, in every school building, with follow-up time at staff meetings for teacher “de-briefing.” Meetings of self-care groups for teachers should be facilitated by school administrators based on teacher interest. Happy Teacher Revolution: Create A Community for Teacher Wellness is one example of a model for teacher support groups.
Follow-up “lessons” on self care via email, from school-based mental health providers using the Self-Care Handbook below have been effective
The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook: 26 Self-Care Tips can be used by School-based Mental Health staff to provide periodic, brief “lessons” on self-care to teachers in their buildings.
Supporting Teachers During Times of Change and Stress identifies causes of teacher stress, coping strategies that teachers commonly use to mitigate the impacts of stress and specific actions and programs that schools and districts can implement to improve working conditions for teachers and minimize teachers stress.
Creating Safe Spaces
Ways to create physical and psychological safety for students in the classroom
Specific ideas that focus on the physical parts of students feeling more safe in the classroom
School wellness checklist that teachers can confidentially ask on a google form about student health, family situation, food situation for each family, and financial situation. The form can be easily modified.
Checklist for what teachers do when students are back in school and if school is dismissed again.
Resources and ideas for families and educators for autistic students, an ongoing resource that is updated
How teachers can transition students back to school, from routine, structure and communication, to harnessing self-isolation experiences to build self confidence, to planning for inclusion and reducing anxiety.
Outdoor classroom in the age of COVID-19: Pros and Cons
Showing children how to wash their hands (English)
Showing children how to wash their hands (Spanish)
Specific ideas that help with students psychologically feeling more safe in the classroom
Helping children cope with changes resulting from the pandemic, with specific ideas and resources.
Reducing the stigma associated with COVID-19 by giving ideas on how we can do our part in preventing the stigma, especially when we see students affected by it.
Childhood traumatic grief: Identifying grief and how can help students with traumatic grief
Trauma informed response to the Pandemic: Suggested School Re-entry “teachable moment” lesson that can be modified to what works best for your classroom.
CASEL’s guide to reopening schools with social-emotional learning programs and practices; it includes ideas that promote social and emotional connectedness (very specific activities for the classroom are on page 9 and 10)
Check-ins google forms for daily check -ins and weekly check- ins when class is virtual. Also gives directions on how to edit the forms for own use.
Virtual Calming Room to use for students that contain sound and music , visual relaxation, guided practice, and apps.
Resources for teachers to support student engagement, anticipate student behaviors, and adjust discipline practices
In response to the health pandemic MDE has provided a number of Social Emotional Learning Resources for children and adults. The Michigan Cares Portal offers free virtual SEL lessons for K-12 students. There are many other free resources to support engagement on the learning continuum.
This document describes how trauma can affect learning, including communication, emotional regulation, attention, and academic engagement. (See pages 22-31.)
The National Association of School Psychologists provides a resource for teachers to understand engagement and motivation. Students may demonstrate emotional engagement, i.e. a student’s attitudes, thoughts, and feelings related to school, teachers, and peers. Students may demonstrate cognitive-behavioral engagement, i.e. their willingness to participate, complete assignments, follow the rules, and participate in nonacademic school activities. Motivation is related to engagement. However, a student’s motivation to participate may be affected by other factors such as a lack of skill, poor instruction, peer influences, and interfering emotions, which leads to a lack of engagement.
This is an example of how a school can incorporate Wellness into their school-wide PBIS initiatives. The school used their PBIS acronym PRIDE, including the keywords, and added suggested activities for students and staff. The school also chose to introduce one part of the acronym each week and supplied 1-2 online resources for families during the stay-at-home period. Teachers may want to customize the example for their class.
The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools provides a document explaining “culturally responsive-sustaining family engagement.” Districts, schools, and educators must develop “authentic, equal partnership with families, rooted in a deep knowledge and appreciation for the rich social and cultural identities, assets, habits, and contexts that families bring to learning.” The resource provides practical suggestions for schools to communicate with families.
The National Equity Project provides numerous resources to learn about educational equity, i.e. “[to] eliminate inequitable practices and cultivate the unique gifts, talents and interests of every child, so that success and failure are no longer predictable by student identity - racial, cultural, economic, or any other social factor.”
The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations provides tips for teachers to engage with their students and families within the virtual classroom.
Important considerations for teachers when connecting with families of English Language learners
A joint guidance document from NASP and ASCA helps schools understand and anticipate various student behaviors when transitioning to school in the fall (page 9). Schools are encouraged to view behavior from a trauma-focused perspective and reflect on current discipline practices, implementing culturally responsive restorative practices.
Trauma affects children’s academic performance, behavior, and relationships. Teachers may see a range of behaviors including reactivity, impulsivity, aggression, defiance, withdrawal, and perfectionism. This resource includes academic, nonacademic, and relationship building strategies to support students with traumatic experiences. (See pages 32-52.)
The Behavior Tool Box provides numerous interventions found to be effective with a wide range of learners.
Fix School Discipline Mini Toolkit is a resource for anyone interested in learning how to eliminate harmful discipline practices that push students out of school and address racial disparities in school discipline.
Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions Toolkit from Michigan Department of Education
Responding to Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs in School
Building Resilience in Children - All children are capable of working through challenges and can learn to cope with stress. Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It is a skill that kids can develop as they grow. Here are some resources to help teachers and support staff engage in this important work.
This InBrief video series from Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University is a three-part sequence about resilience. Watch these videos to: 1) learn about the fundamentals of resilience, which is built through interactions between children and their environments, 2) visualize the science of resilience, and see how genes and experience interact to produce positive outcomes for children, and 3) learn how responsive exchanges with adults help children build the skills they need to manage stress and cope with adversity.
Part 1 - What is Resilience?
Part 2 - The Science of Resilience
Part 3 - How Resilience is Built
This Center of the Developing Child- Harvard University webpage provides key concepts and information about Resilience. Additionally, the website contains numerous resources on the developing child.
“What Trauma Taught Me About Resilience” by Charles Hunt was recorded at TEDxCharlotte. He emphasizes that resilience is one of the most important traits a person can have. He helps students and young professionals build resilience, believe in bigger and greater for themselves, and create the educational, financial, and professional plans to get there.
This 2017 Brené Brown keynote entitled “Daring Classrooms” was recorded at SXSWedu. A daring classroom is a place where both teachers and students commit to choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy and practicing values rather than professing them. She notes that personal risk and vulnerability are essential to courageous and resilient schools.
Resources, Tools and Tips
This multi-session, archived course instructed by Dr. Clayton Cook (a professor at the University of Minnesota and University of Washington). The course focuses on teaching individuals the science behind becoming a resilient person. By the end of this course, you will have learned about the knowledge and skills that you can apply in your life now and in the future to be a resilient person.
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists’ website is titled “Building Resiliency: Helping Children Learn to Weather Tough Times” and offers five ways to promote resiliency in children and help protect them from long-term ill effects of difficult experiences.
This handout from the National Association of School Psychologists PREPaRE Training (Workshop 1, 3rd Edition) offers teachers methods to promote internal and external resiliency.
This professional abstract published in Contemporary School Psychology is called “Adapting and Implementing a School-Based Resilience-Building Curriculum Among Low-Income Racial and Ethnic Minority Students”. This detailed abstract outlines how a resilience curriculum can be adapted and implemented among predominantly underserved, ethnic and racial minority youth through a robust community-academic partnership.
Michigan Model for Health Curriculum (MMH) is a comprehensive health education curriculum in the classroom. The MMH targets pre-K through 12th grade students utilizing a skills-based approach. It teaches students the skills and knowledge needed to build and maintain healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Using a skills-based approach the MMH covers content in Social and Emotional Health, Personal Safety, Substance use and misuse, nutrition and physical activity and HIV and other STI education.
Identifying Crisis Responses and Warning Signs - Warning signs of traumatic stress are the emotional, cognitive, physical, and interpersonal or behavioral reactions to crises and are consequences of the individual’s perceptions of the threat presented by the crisis or tragedy. These resources will help teachers and support staff better understand and identify these important signs in their students.
This resource from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center is titled “Children's Responses to Crises and Tragic Events”. It lists a number of behaviors that infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and young children who experience a tragic event may exhibit.
The Educator’s Guide to Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of Students was written by the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Page 11 identifies typical student reactions (by age) to stressful events and response strategies for teachers or caregivers.
The Emotional Impact of Disaster on Children and Families document provides information on the emotional consequences of exposure to massive incidents among children and adolescents. Furthermore, it describes
the criteria for the identification of more serious mental health disorders, and proposes strategies for the referral and management of children at different developmental stages.
This handout from the National Association of School Psychologists PREPaRE Training (Workshop 2, 3rd Edition) offers information on Psychological Trauma Warning Signs. It covers early warning signs, enduring warning signs, developmental variations and cultural variations.
The Black Mental Health Alliance has put together this one page resource on suicide facts, signs, and interventions.
This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focuses on Anxiety and Depression in Children. It provides teachers with some behaviors typically associated with each disorder as well as other resources and information related to prevention and treatment.
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists’ website is titled “Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators”. It addresses suicide risk factors, suicide warning signs, responses to suicidal concerns, suicide prevention and resiliency factors.
Responding to Crisis Concerns - Teachers and support staff play a critical role in identifying and responding to the needs of their students. Ideally, they have systems and supports in place to help them better understand and manage crisis responses in their classrooms and schools. Here are some resources to utilize when crisis concerns and related behaviors are possible or observed.
National Education Association (NEA) School Crisis Guide: Help and Healing in a Time of Crisis provides schools with a wealth of information about school crisis response and how to prepare, prevent, respond and recover from crisis events.
The Center for School Mental Health’s “School Mental Health Screening Playbook: Best Practices and Tips from the Field” details the importance, purpose and process for mental health screening in schools. Mental health screening is the assessment of students to determine whether they may be at risk for a mental health concern.
“Mental Health Screening in Schools” by John E. Desrochers & Gail Houck highlights the importance of universal screening, key messages and details components of a mental health screening action plan.
“Children’s Mental Health: Information for Educators” is a National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) document that focuses on the social and emotional development of children. It provides teachers with useful information about how to build resilience/protective factors and respond to mental health problems in children.
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists’ website is titled “Supporting Children’s Mental Health: Tips for Parents and Educators”. It contains 11 tips for teachers that focus on prevention and wellness promotion.
“Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks” provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will help parents, caregivers, teachers and support staff learn some common reactions, respond in a helpful way, and know when to seek support.
This handout from the National Association of School Psychologists PREPaRE Training (Workshop 2, 3rd Edition) offers teachers and others Possible Questions to Ask When Identifying Crisis Problems.
This is the link to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services’ Trauma and Toxic Stress Education webpage. The link below takes you to a presentation entitled “Being Trauma Informed & Responsive” by Mary Mueller, LMSW, and Lauren Kazee, LMSW, which includes the Power Point presentation targeted toward educators including a toolkit and handouts. The “tips for teachers” start on slide 36, and more so around slide around 42.
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists’ website is titled “Preventing Youth Suicide: Brief Facts and Tips”. It provides teachers with 10 key points regarding suicide which includewhat to do when they have concerns about an at-risk student.
This resource comes from the Classroom Mental Health: A Teacher’s Toolkit for High School website. This information is provided to assist you in the event that a student expresses suicidal thoughts or engages in conduct that may be dangerous to him or herself. The following five steps are intended as a guide to determining a student’s risk of suicide.
The Mayo Clinic has put together this webpage to help guide you when someone you know appears suicidal. It will help you learn the warning signs, know what questions to ask and how to get help.
Grief and Coping
The Dougy Center - The National Center for Grieving Children & Families has created “When Your World is
Already Upside Down: Supporting Grieving Children and Teens During COVID-19 Global Health Crisis” that provides tips on supporting grieving children and teens as well as yourself.
The National Alliance for Grieving Children has developed a toolkit called “Responding to Change and Loss: In Support of Children, Teens and Families”. Teachers can use the workbook to process and create space for everyone’s emotions and connect with families.
Caring for Children in a Disaster is a CDC webpage that helps teachers, parents and caregivers understand the factors that influence emotional impact in children and what you can do to help them cope with emergencies before, during and after an event.
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) website is titled “Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19”. It provides numerous tips for teachers on how to help children cope and offers additional resources regarding the pandemic.
Crisis Prevention Institute’s Top 10 De-Escalation Tips will help you respond to difficult behavior in the safest, most effective way possible.
Crisis Prevention Institute’s “How to Set Limits” provides teachers with tips for success and specific approaches to settling limits in your classroom.
Crisis Prevention Institute’s “4 Tips For De-Escalating Behaviors” is a one-page tip sheet for teachers and support staff on how to handle challenging student behaviors.
Crisis Prevention Institute’s “De-escalation Tips in Light of Coronavirus Anxiety” offers 5 tips for how teachers can address anxiety-related behaviors in school.