Soft skills, 21st-century skills, emotional intelligence, mindsets and behaviors and workforce readiness skills are all synonymous to those intrinsic factors we, as school counselors, want to equip each of our students with as they develop into competent adults. We understand the importance of these skills but often have a hard time finding time and strategies to reach everyone. Noncognitive factors have orbited in and out of school-wide curriculum for years. The pendulum swings between fostering our student body's social/emotional development and being accountable for standardized test scores. The reality is that academic success comes from fundamentals skills like motivation, self-awareness, emotional regulation and grit. As counselors, how do we design a culture where such important learning begins to happen in our school counseling programs? How do we find time and support to tackle program implementation and management with our already outrageously busy positions?
Luckily, we are already trained in and using the strategies that seem to be the most time and cost efficient. Read the complete article to learn about supporting social/emotional learning with classroom guidance, small groups, individual counseling and professional development.
Responding to the surge of recent research into the detrimental effects of screen time and social media and its increased correlation to depression and anxiety, Eagle Valley Middle School took action. Our No Place for Hate (NP4H) Coalition created a school-wide activity that attempted to give students, staff and parents a glimpse into positives that can come from limiting social media use and taking back control of our lives.
“No Place for Hate is a self-directed program helping all of the stakeholders take the lead on improving and maintaining school climate so all students can thrive,” explains the Anti-Defamation League’s website. Across the country, 1600 schools have embraced the NP4H movement and become No Place for Hate Schools. The Eagle Valley Middle School coalition is made up of approximately 30 student leaders and two sponsors, including me and our sixth-grade math teacher. One of the steps to become a designated No Place for Hate school is to design and implement three school-wide anti-bias or bullying prevention activities. The activity Disconnect to Reconnect was not only meant to give students, staff, and parents a social media break, but also to bring awareness to this issue, increase face-to-face interactions, and help stop some of the cyber bullying that might be occurring.
On May 14, 2018, we asked our school community to commit to giving up social media for five days. During those days, we asked everyone who took the pledge to do a daily reflection on the differences that they noticed. Programs like Offline October and Away for the Day inspired this activity. EVMS already practices Away for the Day by being a no phone zone during school hours. However, we still see a need for a longer break. With the chance to win prizes as a sign-up incentive, we had 110 students (about one third of our school), 18 staff and 30 parents sign up.