Staff Take Part in Social and Emotional Wellness Professional Development

You can’t pour from an emp­ty cup. The care and well-being of our fac­ul­ty and staff is crit­i­cal to our abil­i­ty to care for the social and emo­tion­al well­ness of our 18,000+ stu­dents. While our stu­dents enjoy the start to their long week­end, Central Bucks fac­ul­ty and staff are engaged in crit­i­cal pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment dur­ing the district’s mid-year pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment day – entire­ly devot­ed to social and emo­tion­al wellness.

Keynote remarks by Dr. Katherine Dahlsgaard were focused on the sci­ence of hope – what hope is, how it can be har­nessed, and why it helps. Dr. Dahlsgaard, who serves as Clinical Director of the Anxiety Behaviors Clinic in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, shared her thoughts on the impor­tance of har­ness­ing the pow­er of hope to build resilien­cy among stu­dents, based on research that shows that while a num­ber of char­ac­ter traits — grit, curios­i­ty, grat­i­tude, etc. — are relat­ed to resilience, hope stands alone as pro­tec­tive of well-being in the face of adverse life events.

Having staff grouped across grade lev­els at two loca­tions allowed for excel­lent con­ver­sa­tion. Teachers, coun­selors, and admin­is­tra­tors rep­re­sent­ing dif­fer­ent grade lev­els were grouped for “K‑12 con­ver­sa­tions.” Michele Myers, a mem­ber of the district’s staff devel­op­ment plan­ning team, explained the intent of the con­ver­sa­tions, “Getting seri­ous about social and emo­tion­al well­ness means get­ting seri­ous about our under­stand­ing of edu­ca­tion of the ‘whole child’.” A whole child approach to edu­ca­tion is defined by poli­cies, prac­tices, and rela­tion­ships that ensure each child, in each school, in each com­mu­ni­ty, is healthy, safe, engaged, sup­port­ed, and challenged.

The group­ings allowed us to have guid­ed con­ver­sa­tions about what are our stu­dents are like and what they need at all grade lev­els,” she added. “Teachers will be talk­ing about every­thing from emo­tion­al well­ness, to use of tech­nol­o­gy in the class­room and assess­ment practices.”

An effort will be under­tak­en to gath­er feed­back from these con­ver­sa­tions after the ses­sions are com­pete. Information gath­ered will be used to guide admin­is­tra­tive plan­ning around edu­ca­tion of the whole child.

Also crit­i­cal to the day were ses­sions of QPR train­ing, or “Question, Persuade, Refer.” According to the QPR Institute, “…peo­ple trained in QPR learn how to rec­og­nize the warn­ing signs of a sui­cide cri­sis and how to ques­tion, per­suade, and refer some­one to help.”

Recognizing the ear­ly warn­ing signs of sui­cide, open­ing a sup­port­ing dia­logue, and secur­ing the appro­pri­ate sup­ports is incred­i­bly impor­tant,” Dr. Alexis McGloin, assis­tant super­in­ten­dent for assess­ment, pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, and edu­ca­tion­al ser­vices explained.

Staff also par­tic­i­pat­ed in well­ness ses­sions to round out the day. Offerings includ­ed art, read­ing, phys­i­cal fit­ness, mind­ful­ness tech­niques, and oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties to gath­er togeth­er, decom­press, and learn self-care tech­niques that they can share with their students.