Understanding & Supporting Real-Time Student Emotional Well-Being

Kelsey Aijala
February 17, 2022
Panel speakers discuss strategies for support during remote learning

February 2022 Webinar Recap

A wave of school closures at the beginning of 2022 brought renewed focus to a growing need: support services for student emotional wellbeing. While consensus on the urgency of social-emotional support is strong, schools and districts face challenges determining what level of support is needed and how to implement these services when teachers are already spread thin.

Sown To Grow and LeanLab Education brought together a panel of California distinct and school leaders to discuss the systems, learnings, and best practices from their experiences navigating these challenges. Leaders from Oakland Unified, Pajaro Valley Unified, and Santa Ana Unified shared powerful insights on how they’ve created structures to celebrate students who are thriving in schools and design interventions for those who may need additional support.

You can view the recording of our panel discussion here.

Highlights from the Panel:

Director of Behavioral Health at Oakland USD, Barb McClung

“As we came back to school, we were asking ‘how do we prepare ourselves?’ One of the things we realized was that we just didn’t have accurate data. We didn’t have good data on who is going to need a mental health service, and what kind of mental health service they are going to need.”
–Barbara McClung, Director of Behavioral Health, Oakland Unified

Assistance Superintendent of Pajaro Valley USD, Lisa Aguerria

“Students were able to check in with themselves, to come up with strategies to help themselves when they’re not feeling well. And they also get to know more about themselves. What are some of their trigger points? What makes them upset? What makes them happy?”
–Lisa Aguerria, Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, Pajaro Valley Unified

Principal Cesar Flores at Lathrop Intermediate School

“The better the feedback, the better the discussion, and the more the kids opened up. Everybody has a story. It’s our job [as educators] to listen to their story.”
–Cesar Flores, Principal, Lathrop Intermediate School, Santa Ana Unified

These district and school leaders implemented a common practice involving student check-ins and supported teacher feedback. They shared how creating this consistent reflection space grew students’ comfort in articulating their emotional needs and empowered teachers and administrators to better address those needs. It gave them a holistic look at what students in their school were feeling, and informed decisions about where to invest resources.

An audience of educators and administrators across different school contexts shared their own strategies for building social-emotional competencies and pushed the panel to think deeply about how to support teachers in taking care of their own wellbeing and growing their comfort with SEL in the classroom. This discussion highlighted the importance of dialogue between districts, schools, and educators to develop our collective learning toward a shared mission of understanding and supporting student wellbeing.

This was the first in a series of webinars raising up the voices of education practitioners and expanding the dialogue on how to build healthier, happier school communities.