January/February 2019

ICYMI: Supporting social-emotional needs of students

By Joe Mullikin

Presenters: Helena Hernquist, social-emotional coach; Kristin Schmidt, assistant director of Special Education; and Tracy Walsh, social worker for Crystal Lake CCSD 47

The first step in the development and effective implementation of a strong social-emotional program within a school is to identify the needs of students. Crystal Lake CCSD 47 developed a program and worked to identify social-emotional needs through the use of screeners and adapting proactive methods to support students.

The district discovered that it needed to do more about social-emotional needs in order to support students. Historically the district used referrals and focused on the externalized behavior. With continued improvement in practices, Crystal Lake CCSD 47 wanted to shift to the internalized antecedents that might become externalized behavior. The team knew that it would need to need to provide teachers with more support in understanding where their students were, socially and emotionally. The district tested a number of pilots and landed on SAEBRS (K-5) and Erika’s Lighthouse with SOS (Signs of Suicide) for middle school. SAEBRS is a “Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener” developed by Fastbridge. Erika’s Lighthouse is a three-day course for students.

In order to make this effective, a district needs teacher buy-in for the screenings and the value of giving them. Crystal Lake CCSD 47 began with volunteers, had them pilot the programs, asked for feedback, and checked in with them frequently. Over 95 percent of those who piloted this chose the SAEBRS and they were able to “talk it up” for other teachers.

Most importantly, Crystal Lake CCSD 47 didn’t want to get the information about student concerns and not have supports to take action on it. Initially the district team talked about combining the SEL, office referrals, and academic information to get a full picture of the student, to give more information to share with families. It also gives the team information that allows it to target specific groups of students who also share similar concerns or deficiencies. Erika’s Lighthouse is provided during health class. SOS is a tool that identifies signs of suicide prevention for seventh- and eighthgrades. SOS gives information to act on immediately. The district reaches out to local resources, along with other district social workers, when they do the SOS with students so that the supports are all readily available. They also reach out to local therapists to help support students.

Ultimately these programs gave them great information, and then they had to figure out how to use it. This new data gave them a way to analyze patterns and trends to use it within existing intervention structures. This has allowed Crystal Lake CCSD 47 to identify potential professional development needs for teachers and is allowing the district to make other data-based decisions. The data also gave them the information necessary to be able to dedicate 30 minutes of social-emotional learning into the curriculum and school day two days a week.

Editor’s Note

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) is a new feature in Journal, sharing panel reports from the 2018 Joint Annual Conference. Reporters are participants in the Educational Administration Intern program.