Social Emotional Well-Being
The KLSD maintains a comprehensive K-12 school counseling plan per state guidelines that was updated extensively during the 2019-20 school year to comply with changes in regulations. The guidance plan will be reviewed prior to school reopening by an administrative team including the Director of Guidance and Counseling, representative(s) from building administration, and Central Office administration to ensure that the plan is inclusive of current needs. Prior and ongoing committee work in the area of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Social and Emotional Wellness (SEW) both in general, and pertaining to the pandemic and reopening, will drive any revisions and additions to the Counseling Plan.
Shared Decision Making
The KLSD is currently engaged in committee work focused on the social and emotional well-being of students, staff, and families. This work will be ongoing into the 20-21 school year. The District SEL committee was established prior to the COVID 19 Pandemic, and is comprised of school personal including support staff, clinicians, teachers (special education and general education), and school district administrators. The SEL committee has collaboratively developed a vision statement, emphasizing the importance of SEL and the commitment to build SEL into district culture and instructional practice. Additionally, an SEW subcommittee is a key prong of the districtwide school reopening committee, formed this spring. Some of the SEW subcommittee’s work includes approaches to strengthen social connections with students and families, identifying assessment and intervention practices related to SEW, and exploring professional development for staff related to SEW. Within the SEW subcommittee, our assessment and intervention group focused on strengthening practices and systems related to SEW through our existing tiered intervention system for students, parents, and staff. This includes providing access to school counselors and clinicians aligned with the comprehensive developmental school counseling program plan.
To collaborate with parents regarding social and emotional well-being, the KLSD has elicited input and feedback from parents regarding SEW and other facets of health and wellness pertaining to remote learning and school reopening through online surveys. Additionally, parents have been engaged through formal representation on Parent Council, parent focus groups, and virtual public interactive meetings with school administrators.
Ongoing evaluation of the evolving needs of the community, in addition to our extensive internal committee work, will inform and revisions of the counseling plan.
Resources and Referrals
The KLSD utilizes a system of tiered Intervention and supports for SEW districtwide. This includes access to consultation and counseling services provided by counselors and school clinicians, and the capacity to increase the intensity of interventions based on student need.
At the Tier 1 Level, teachers embed SEW into the classroom environment through formats including morning meeting at the elementary level, and through a health and wellness lens at the secondary level. District secondary staff have been trained in Steps A programming at the secondary level, a universal SEL curriculum designed to teach students skills to develop emotional resiliency and decision-making skills. Within the secondary level health curriculum, lessons pertaining to mental health and wellness raise awareness surrounding issues of mental health and wellness. Additionally, the KLSD has partnered with the No Place for Hate Organization, teaching High School students the value of empathy, equity, inclusion, and support for diverse groups. As a result, a “Facing History” course will be offered at the High School to teach students how their views and choices impact others through examination of historical events and perspectives. At the Elementary level, school clinicians have piloted the delivery of SEL curriculum, including lessons from the Second Step program, to support teachers in providing explicit instruction in SEL core competencies. The district is committed to providing SEL instruction as a Tier I intervention, and committee work is ongoing to identify resources and methodology to operationalize this commitment.
An important facet of the KLSD Tier 1 model is ongoing consultation between and among staff and families. School counselors and clinicians support teachers through consultation in instances where students are experiencing social and/or emotional difficulties, and strategies or behavior intervention plans are deemed beneficial. Student progress is then monitored by staff. Students who fail to make adequate progress may be referred by the teacher and clinician for a problem-solving meeting. Problem solving meetings, including school administrators, special education teachers, and service providers, may identify and formalize additional interventions.
Tier 2 services, typically group counseling, are available to students requiring a more intensive level of social/emotional support. Clinicians develop a goal(s) and progress is monitored. Should a student fail to make adequate progress, Tier 3 services can be recommended, which may involve individual counseling or a combination of both group and individual counseling. Additionally, the KLSD district behavioral consultant can be accessed to assist with the development of a more intense behavior plan or modification of a behavior intervention plan. The KLSD behavioral consultant may also consult with parents, teachers, and clinicians.
Often, families require support to manage social and emotional difficulties with children at home and will engage in consultation with KLSD school clinicians. Clinicians help families connect with outside providers to access behavioral and emotional support services in the community. The clinical staff maintains a list of providers and programs to assist families.
The KLSD has established systems to identify students who may be in crisis and require mental and behavioral health support services. Our most important “front line” resources to assess and intervene when a student’s social/emotional well-being appears compromised are our classroom teachers. Teachers participate in mandated reporter training to identify warning signs that may indicate trauma and abuse. Teachers are also continually assessing the social/emotional well-being of students through interactions across settings, and they are trained to report changes in behavior or perceived difficulties to school counselors and clinicians. School clinicians have been trained to conduct risk/threat assessments, the outcome of which may result in monitoring, initiating interventions or intensifying interventions. The result of a threat assessment may also involve immediate action, such as contacting outside mental health services to ensure the safety of students. Further, each school holds monthly Awareness and Prevention team meetings attended by school clinicians, counselors, and administrators. These meetings are in place to discuss students who are in emotional crisis and may present a threat to their safety or to the safety of others. Recommendations for interventions made at these meetings may include school counseling services, connections with outside clinicians or programs, and consultation with parents and outside providers.
Finally, the KLSD has dedicated Therapeutic Support Programs at each school level (elementary, middle, and high school), designed to support students who have difficulty regulating emotions and making and maintaining social relationships. Our KLSD clinicians have received intensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to teach students skills to manage unproductive thinking, extreme emotions and reactions, and difficulty with social decision making.
During the 20-21 school year, the KLSD is committed to providing Professional Development activities for staff on how to talk with and support students surrounding COVID 19, and how to develop coping and resilience skills. The SEW reopening subcommittee is in the process of identifying resources to support teachers with this work.
The KLSD Curriculum Council, which consists of Instructional Leaders and building and district office administrators, will allot scheduled meeting time to discuss issues pertaining to SEW. These discussions and any decisions made regarding curriculum and practice will then be disseminated to grade levels and teams by their instructional leaders.
Regarding resources available for teachers, through SEW school reopening committee work, a large repository of lessons and activities was developed by a team of KLSD teachers and clinicians. Teachers can access this material to guide practice both to connect with students, and to build their coping and resilience skills. The KLSD school clinicians are valuable resources to our teachers for professional development in the area of communicating with students and building coping and resiliency. As our clinicians work with teachers and classes as part of the Tier I intervention model, this collaboration provides valuable professional development to teachers. Clinicians model the language and approaches required to support students and to build resiliency skills. Moreover, this Tier I SEL work provides teachers with resources to further their understanding and skillset with building coping and resiliency skills and speaking with students about the COVID 19 crisis. The KLSD Clinicians recently received clinical training to work with students who may have experienced trauma during the COVID 19 crisis, as well as training in “psychological first aid” to support students who may be experiencing emotional responses related to COVID 19 and returning to school. As indicated, KLSD school clinicians have received training and consultancy in areas of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. The skills and approaches gleaned through these trainings will be utilized to give teachers and students the language, systems, and approaches to support students, and to develop coping and resiliency skills.
Finally, during the period of remote learning, KLSD support staff, often on the “front lines” with students experiencing social and emotional difficulties, participated in virtual professional development. The support staff engaged in professional learning in several areas of intervention and best practice approaches including how to support students during the COVID 19 crisis and how to help them to build coping and resiliency skills.