New York State Education Department I State Office of Religious and Independent Schools I Catapult Learning
Excited to be Back to School!
Welcome to School Year 21-22! As classrooms buzz with the excitement of the new school year, we know that social and emotional well-being of our students will play an important role. Check out our interviews with Suzanna Vota, School Principal, and Janine Masser, school psychologist, who share valuable insights.
Q: What does back to school look like this year?
SV:This question raises many issues including children’s preparedness for learning – mentally, socially, physically, and most importantly, emotionally. The usual end of summer questions and concerns- “Who will be my teacher?”, “Will my friends be in my class?”, “Will grade ___ be much more difficult from last year?” – are still a concern for most students with the additional stress of wearing masks and not being able to “read” other’s expressions, maintaining social distances, and the fear of getting sick and being excluded from participating in person.
JM: Students will present with additional challenges as they transition into the school year due to their virtual learning and social experiences. School staff need to pay particular attention to the students’ social-emotional functioning.
Q: This year more than ever, we are aware of importance of SEL. What social-emotional functioning ‘look fors’ should teachers notice?
JM: There are many ways students demonstrate emotional distress, so it will be incumbent upon teachers to be the “first line of defense” and look for any sign(s) of distress including but not limited to behavioral outburst, inability to focus, social isolation, lethargy, or withdrawal, lack of affect, disorganized speech or thinking evidence of being “out of touch” with reality, frequent class absences or “disappearances” from class, a general unhappiness for over several weeks, increased dependence on you or others, gain or loss of significant weight, or abrupt changes in manner, temperament, or personal hygiene.
Q: What can teachers do to increase social emotional well-being in the classroom and ensure a year of successful learning for all students?
JM: Teachers can dedicate time in the school day to support their students’ social-emotional wellbeing and mitigate any challenges. This may involve implementing a social-emotional curriculum or incorporating self-regulation tools such as taking a “mindful moment,” completing emotional check-ins or morning journaling exercises, and providing structured breaks into the class schedule.”
SV: Parents will be relied upon to help their children cope with these changing times by constantly showing them unconditional love, supporting them through their challenges and demonstrating pride for their accomplishments. This school year is going to prove to be a challenge for all involved – students, parents, teachers, and administrators. By working together, this school year can be a successful one for all.
Leadership Circle for Principals
Understanding by DesignPurposely designed to build a community of leaders who learn and problem-solve together, join the Fall Cohort of the Leadership Circle to discuss, share, and plan for an exceptional school year. Meeting twice a month, each virtual session will have a driving focus and will be facilitated by Mitch Center of Center Educational Consulting.
Sessions start Monday, September 20, 10:15am-11:15am
Leadership Circle for Principals
Join a unique Writing PLC to further strengthen writing in your classroom. Hosted by Dr. John Collins of the Collins Writing Program, this series will be a blend of content and implementation Q&A.
This cohort will meet virtually on the first Monday of the month from 3:30-4:30pm, starting October 4.
Back to School Wishes from St Anne’s School of Garden City!
My name is Mr. Paul Morisi and I am the principal of Saint Anne’s School in Garden City, NY. We are excited for what this year will bring, and we cannot wait to open our doors to our students on their first day of school! As we begin this school year, let us work together to ensure that students, teachers, and families alike will grow as a learning community.
Noticing the Joy of School
By Mitch Center
While many friends and family members enjoy the last remnants of summer here in the northeast, teachers and school leaders know that the beginning of September is for one thing and one thing only: getting ready for the new school year! And after a year like last year, what a year this is. Are we rushing to make up for lost time? Are we slowing down to help others catch their breath? Are we somewhere in between?
Brendan O’Day, a leadership consultant and Founding Partner with The Meristerm Group, LLC, provides some wisdom with three simple words: Start by noticing. In his latest blog post, he reminds leaders of the importance of remaining present and responsive to the people and situations that present themselves to us. He explains that not everyone will need the same thing:
“Your school community—its teachers, staff, parents, and students—will all want different things from you. They haven’t even begun to reveal the effects of this pandemic on each of them, individually, or on all of them, collectively. Do your homework. Be curious. Notice. Probe. And notice some more. Make a small move based on your best guess. And be prepared to pivot if you get it wrong.”
O’Day posits that after the year and a half we’ve had, with some kids and staff being away from buildings for 18+ months, our job is to “bring the joy back to schooling.” We don’t know how people will show up on the first days for school, or which emotions might reveal themselves, and when, but how we respond, pivot and remain flexible through the first several weeks of school just might make all the difference. So, provide yourself some space – and grace – to step back, slow down, and as O’Day says, “begin by noticing.”
~Mitch Center provides leadership professional development and coaching for Catapult Learning and is a monthly contributor to our Leadership Corner Conversation.
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NYSED Resources and More
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37th Annual Rise Conference
The 37th Annual Religious and Independent Schools Educators Conference will we held virtually November 9-10, 2021. Stay tuned for further details in the coming months.
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