The Guidance program focuses on the social-emotional development of students by teaching them problem-solving skills that can be applied in daily life.
My first responsibility is serving as a proactive facilitator working toward the academic, social and personal goals of every student. I believe first steps in any environment are building trusting relationships. Students respond when they know their Social Worker (and teachers) are interested and genuinely care. Serving as a School Social Worker provides the opportunity to address the needs of the whole school by providing classroom guidance, small group and individual counseling. This effort is best achieved through a collaborative effort.
Collaboration is the key to any successful educational endeavor. This is a profession in which colleagues possess a wealth of different expertise, perspectives, and resources. In addition, teachers, Social Workers, community resources and other staff members play different roles in the life of a student at school, and therefore have multiple opportunities to foster student growth. As a Social Worker, part of my role in the collaborative process is to support teachers and advocate for students. Including parents into this process, creates an aligned, cohesive support system for students and families. Therefore, developing a comprehensive program requires the cooperative effort of the Social Worker, teachers, staff, parents, and the community.
Last, but certainly not least is fostering the love of learning. This starts with adults modeling how a life-long learner thinks and behaves. Long gone are the days of teachers having all the answers. Part of fostering a growth mindset is presenting questioning, searching and struggling through challenges and curiosities of learning! Students need to be provided with genuine experiences and given opportunities to solve their own problems with guided support. Creating a secure and safe environment provides the foundation to allow students to focus on this process. Actively listening and providing strategic questioning empowers students to find their own answers. Also, offering new perspectives guides students through the process.
Some of the programs that are being implemented at PLES help in building those trusting relationships, collaborative efforts and honing problem-solving skills.
1. This year, PLES will use a Responsive Classroom approach in order to help build those trusting relationships between staff and students. This includes a morning meeting where students get to greet, share, do an activity and read a morning message every day. We also use a closing meeting to check on how the student's day went. We feel this helps to build relationships and engage our students.
2. We also have a Peer Advocacy program which revolves around student leaders. These leaders have been trained in a multi-step program of mediation. They help student's in problem-solving issues that come up in the classroom or at recess. They help the student's involved in the problem to come up with a solution that they both can live with. The Peer Advocates also help make new students feel welcome by giving tours and making welcome bags. They will be peer friends during a new students adjustment period. They present to grades K-3, telling them who they are and how the Peer Advocate program works.
3. During the month of October, PLES has a Diversity week. We have lessons around diversity and what makes us different. We stress how differences make us unique. During that week, we will have a mix it up spirit week and a special mix it up lunch.
4. Our Watch Dogs program helps to build collaborative relationships between Dads and our students. Our dad volunteers help with security, classroom activities and most of all interacting/playing with students at recess. If you are an interested Dad, please let me know.
5. Path2Empathy, a curriculum created by our district's Middle School Counselor's, is used at PLES during the months of January and February. During this time, students learn about what Empathy means through lessons and grades 2-6 are able to interview different groups of people (family members, school personnel, community members, each other or middle school students). This a collaborative effort that is a great learning experience for the students and a lot of fun for everyone.