The principal at my practicum site is pretty neat. I totally drank the kool aid he was serving during the staff days before the students returned. Being a selective enrollment school, there is a huge tendency to focus solely on academics and totally burn out the students. I was wrestling with the high academic rigor at a school like this even before I started. As soon as he referenced Race to Nowhere I knew this school was special. The next thing he talked about was the Latin phrase, cura personalis, meaning care of the whole person. How cool that this super rigorous school with very high functioning students is developing a philosophy that focuses on the WHOLE student! Another indicator of this shift is the first thing the AP mentioned when I asked her what reforms are on the way. Her response? Social emotional learning! So I forwarded all Dr. Mason's SEL workshop materials and I am going to talk to her about doing a brief presentation during the next professional development day.
During the staff days the new administration asked each department to break out and create a "FedEx" project, something that would be delivered "overnight" or in this case, during the first quarter of the year. The counseling department developed a project to increase visibility, focus on sophomores (often overlooked when focusing on transitioning freshman and getting juniors/seniors ready for college), and address whatever stress they may be facing.
The intervention developed has been named "Lunch Bunch" and will be an informal group discussion during each lunch period once a week for 4 weeks. The topics are: Too much to do, not enough time-using my time better; They expect too much! Responding to pressures of school and college; Do I have to be the best all the time? Taking care of yourself; and I'm overwhelmed! Sorting out what's important. The only downside is they decided to hold these groups on Fridays when I'm not there! I am so sad to be missing out. The upside? Students will have a chance to normalize their feelings, find new strategies, develop relationships with their counselors, and maybe develop more specific groups from topics as more needs are identified.