This month in Social/Emotional lessons we have been discussing how the brain creates stronger connections when it is challenged. We talked about how failing and making mistakes are a part of life and that is when real learning happens. Here is a great video that explains how our brain works when it comes to using a Growth Mindset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf8FX2sI3gU
We also discussed the importance of not giving up when we come face to face with a challenge. We discussed the Formula for Powerful Learning = Hard Work + Good Strategies + Help from Others.
We learned that is it okay to ask for help when we need it and it's okay to try different strategies when we're stuck. We also talked about how important it is to take breaks if we need to, especially if we begin to feel frustrated.
To demonstrate this, the older grades were challenged to build the tallest, free-standing tower they could with Popsicle sticks and tape in less than 10 minutes. The students had to use their growth mindset to strategize and work through any doubts they had about completing the task and they did an awesome job!
So many exciting things are happening and we're excited to be back in school and see our students face-to-face!
We also want to welcome our new school social worker, Brynn Bell LCSW. We are so grateful to add her to our GWA team and excited for the expertise she is bringing to our counseling team!
Brynn Bell is passionate about mental health therapy and applied behavior analysis (ABA) and has worked with children and adults on skill-building and self-management for over 16 years. She loves to work with the family, educational, and treatment team to help children succeed using a whole-person approach. Brynn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.She has specialized experience working with Autism, ADHD, ODD, and children with difficult behavior. Her clinical approach is solution-focused and cognitive behavioral and she loves to incorporate play, art, and the child’s individual interests into the sessions. Brynn loves living in Southern Utah and enjoys hiking, boating, and biking with her husband and four children. Brynn is a singer and loves community theater.
Brynn can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of my job as a school counselor is to advocate for students who are marginalized and may not feel like they fully belong simply because they are different. I advocate for these students by teaching all students the importance of empathy through seeking to understand and validating their lived experiences.
There is still much to be done but I especially want students who have ever felt different or like they haven't belonged for any reason, to know - we SEE you, we HEAR you, and we want to DO better and BE better. We are committed to continual growth and improvement as educators in order to better serve all of our students.
The following links are resources you may find helpful when having discussions about race with your children:
How parents can teach children to be anti-racist
Talking about race with kids - podcast
Booklist of children's books on anti-racism
PBS Online Series - Talking to Kids about Racism
Talking about race - website
Teaching Tolerance - website, free lesson plans
Today, Governor Herbert announced that all Utah schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. Although it was not fully unexpected news, it was not necessarily the news we wanted to hear. Safety of our students and our community will always be the priority but it does not mean we aren't allowed to grieve the losses that have come with this pandemic.
Our awesome director, Mr. Clark, shared a wonderful video with faculty/staff today about the importance of being allowed to feel emotion and also the importance of allowing our children to feel emotion. One of the main themes I took away from the video is that we all have different strategies to handle and cope with our emotions. What works for one person may not work for another and that's okay as long as we have a handful of go-to, healthy coping skills to use when we experience "big" feelings.
We love your children and miss them so much! Some of the feedback I've been receiving from students is that they are missing their friends and teachers. I know teachers are planning to do more Zoom meetings each day for students and while it's not ideal to socialize over technology, it is one of the only options we have right now to fill their social needs. Here is a list of more resources that can be helpful in meeting the social/emotional needs of children during these incredibly unique and unusual times. Please feel free to reach out to me for more resources or help. - Mrs. Merida, email@example.com
A lot can change in a couple of weeks time. We miss seeing the students' smiling faces and hearing their voices in the hallways and classrooms. It has been a challenging couple of weeks for everyone involved and we hope to see you again soon! At the same time we hope you all stay safe and healthy in your homes.
If you would like some resources and ideas of things to do or share with your child during this time of uncertainty, please click on this link.
Our school social worker, Mrs. Swanson, has also created a blog and wanted to share a message to our GWA families. Here's the link.
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
So far this school year, through the help of the Hope Squad, teachers, aides, admin, and parents, we have intervened with several students who have expressed thoughts of harming themselves. (*We always contact parents if their student expresses thoughts of self-harm.) The rate of youth suicide is increasing and is the leading cause of death for youth age 15-24 in the state of Utah. Although, it is undoubtedly an uncomfortable subject to bring up, research has shown that the more we talk about resources and healthy ways to cope with stress, worry, anxiety, and depression - the more likely our youth will be to reach out for help when they need it.
Often times students have not yet learned healthy coping skills or they may not have the emotional/social support they need. In all grades this year, we have discussed several coping skills and have even practiced some of them. Ask your students about "Lazy 8 Breathing" or "Square Breathing". I've added an attachment below of a list of healthy coping skills you can go over and practice with your children.
Students may have also noticed some new SafeUT posters that were recently hung up around the school. I'm encouraging middle school students, all staff, and faculty to download the SafeUT app, which offers free, professional 24/7 crisis counseling, and a way to report and refer others we may be worried about. This is a convenient way to access help right from your own phone and most importantly it provides a safety net for those who need it. Click on the link below to watch a video that explains it more.
Because I serve over 1000 students, it is difficult to know exactly what is going on with each of our students. So I am very thankful for your referrals and insight on the students we serve. Please never hesitate to reach out to me if you need to - firstname.lastname@example.org
Divorce can be a harrowing experience for everyone involved, including children. Thankfully, there are resources available to help support parents. One local community resource aims to aid parents in helping make the transition a little smoother for their children through a support group. For more information, visit: http://www.utcourts.gov/divorceedforchildren/ and see the attached flyer.
I recently attended a conference where the speaker, Tim Shriver, shared a staggering statistic. He said that 70% of all students we serve in schools will experience some level of anxiety or depression throughout their school experience. One of my priorities this school year has been to introduce and remind students to use healthy coping skills. I have loved hearing from parents about how their child is teaching them how to use coping skills they've learned at school. Children are resilient and for the most part, have the ability to bounce-back from adversity. However, sometimes even after trying a myriad of healthy coping skills, students may need extra support. Sometimes that extra support comes in the form of talking to a medical and/or mental health professional. Our wonderful school social worker, Mrs. Swanson, has compiled a running list of therapists in the area who work with children and youth. This list is offered as a courtesy and may contain unintentional errors or omissions. Inclusion in this list does not indicate a specific recommendation or endorsement. Counselors/therapists have different licenses, training, and approaches; it is recommended that you contact providers directly to find the best fit for your situation and needs.
- THANK YOU!! to everyone who helped out with the HOPE tree this year! It was beyond amazing to see how generous our GWA families are!
- Over the past month we have been talking about GRATITUDE and SERVICE during our social/emotional lessons. This week I challenged all 3rd - 7th graders to do a service project (any kind, big or small) over the next few weeks. They are creating a slide presentation to present their projects to their class at the end of January. If you're looking for something to keep your kids busy over the holiday break, this would be a great family activity to do together! I encourage students to take pictures of themselves doing their service projects and getting a parents' help to upload the pictures to their slideshow. Here's a great video that explains the benefits of doing a service learning project with kids: https://youtu.be/VkQSH1-r010
- Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions - email@example.com
Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to go into classrooms to teach students some strategies for calming down when they feel big emotions like anger or sadness. Here is a link to a really great video that explains what happens to our brain when we get overwhelmed with big emotions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bKuoH8CkFc
I encourage you to ask your kids about some of the Calm Down strategies they learned and practiced in class!
This week we are talking about Internet Safety. We are discussing how to stay safe online and how to be a good digital citizen. A good digital citizen is someone who is responsible with technology and uses it for good. Check out this website for more information and resources to know how to keep your family safe while using technology: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
After Thanksgiving break please check the Christmas tree in the lobby for ornaments with children in need's Christmas gift wishes. Simply purchase the gift and return it to the school by December 16th. We will do the wrapping for you! Email Mrs. Merida with any questions you have - firstname.lastname@example.org
GWA Counseling center blog
This blog will be used to share useful information with both parents and teachers of GWA students, focusing primarily on social and emotional tips and college and career information.