The education landscape has shifted drastically over the past weeks and Seneca’s Unconditional Education partner schools are working hard to ensure that all students and families continue to thrive. In an effort to chronicle the innovative shifts in practice that are being made to support students, families, and school partners, UE will be presenting a series of interviews highlighting the work of UE practitioners. Our second conversation is with Theo Grant-Funck, Senior Student Support Assistant at Cox Academy in Oakland.
Making Students' Social Emotional Health Integral to Distance Learning - EdSource Weekly Podcast
EdSource recently explored the narratives and challenges of student wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic in their ongoing podcast series, “This Week in California Education.” Tune in and listen to our very own Executive Director of School Partnerships, Robin Detterman, as she shares how staff at Seneca are responsively shifting their practice to ensure students stay connected to the mental health services during this time of remote learning (starting at the 10 minute mark). We want to offer a huge shout out to our team members and all mental health practitioners across the nation who are striving to ensure that all students and families remain connected to community and opportunities for wellness. We appreciate you!
The education landscape has shifted drastically over the past weeks and Seneca’s Unconditional Education partner schools are working hard to ensure that all students and families continue to thrive. In an effort to chronicle the innovative shifts in practice that are being made to support students, families, and school partners, UE will be presenting a series of interviews highlighting the work of UE practitioners. Our fist conversation is with Anna Scaiano, a UE coach at Verde K-8 in West Contra Costa Unified School District.
All-In! Partnership Project’s own March Madness series was a huge success this last month, gaining momentum with each week’s new themes, humor, and staff engagement! In efforts to adapt to the current climate of COVID-19 and the many challenges that arose from transitioning to remote work and services, March Madness served to motivate, appreciate, and celebrate each other through the power of community connection. Below is a full look at the amazing and engaging activities our program took part in last month:
#MYFOURLEGGEDPAL because pets are always our favorites. Three different groups of research found consistent evidence that the relationship you have with your pet can result in greater self-esteem and physical fitness, in addition to making you more conscientious and outgoing (Drewis, 2017). No wonder furry friends always bring folks’ spirits up!
#SELFIESWITHMYPEEPS was the kick-off challenge to demonstrate how our staff handle healthy relationships; this can mean being with the friends who get you, quality family time, lunch with your coworkers, and more.
#SHOWUSHOWYOUCHILL shows a glimpse of the ways we enjoy breaktime at work, such as checking our social media, taking a walk, or take time to gather with co-workers.
#CHEFITUP – what more can we say! Good nutrition is immensely important as your relationship with
food can create a better sense of balance in your life. This is reflected in how balanced and varied your nutrition is, and how well your food serves as your fuel.
#DANCINGWITHMYHOMIES demonstrated the important physical practices our staff keep up. Remember that physical self-care is all things of care for your body, ranging from quality sleep, dancing, getting sunlight, and even going to the dentist!
We hope you are all taking care of yourselves as we try to support others during this challenging time. One of our staff members shared the article "That Discomfort You're Feeling is Grief" which frames what we are collectively and individually experiencing during this crisis as grief. It's important to name the actual feelings and reactions we are experiencing that people may not have been able to articulate. Hearing how others are doing and feeling helps all of us stay connected when we are all in isolation. During these last few weeks, working with the All-In! team in San Francisco and the Peninsula has illuminated for us several truths about the resiliency of human beings.
First, people have an enormous capacity to come together, despite any obstacles in their path. When the shelter-in-place ordinance was first rolled out, there was a moment of panic. "Does this mean we can't see our kids and families? How will we continue to serve our school communities?" In the end, it only took one day of planning for Telehealth services to begin in SF and East Palo Alto. Our staff worked together to contact each of our Tier 3 families, assess their preferences around virtual platforms, and schedule sessions. Then, using phone and video platforms, both clinicians and behavioral staff started holding sessions with kids and families the following day. Talk about a quick turnaround!
Second, people have an incredible amount of untapped creativity. We all initially said something to the effect of, "but what are we going to do in a Telehealth session with a five-year-old?" It turns out that the possibilities are endless. One of our behavioral staff had a young client over video walk to the place in her home where she felt the most safe. Then, they walked through a few coping strategies and she practiced utilizing those tools in real time. When are we, as school-based mental health providers, ever able to help kids generalize coping skills into their home environments? Almost never! Another one of our staff figured out how to utilize the "draw" function on one of the virtual platforms and share his screen so that he and the client could create an art piece together. A third staff member read the book The Invisible String to all her clients, exploring themes of community and how they are still connected to their teachers and friends from school. The list of exciting activities is growing each day, as our folks continue to find new ways of engaging their young clients.
Finally, human beings look out for one another and help when needed. Amid Covid-19, there is a substantial waitlist of children and families here in San Francisco who have not been able to access mental health care. In support of our Seneca partners in the San Francisco Connections program, our clinicians and behavioral staff have been able to take on several cases to ensure that these young people receive the socio-emotional supports they need to make it through this global crisis. Our staff have displayed grit, perseverance, and a willingness to go above and beyond in one of the most challenging times that we as a species have experienced.
We have never felt so proud to be a part of this organization and truly believe that my colleagues are some of the strongest, most caring individuals this planet has to offer. As Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done." Thank you, Seneca’s All-In! family, for your commitment to supporting our kids and families and getting it done!
Seneca Family of Agencies was selected as one of 12 finalists to receive an SF Battery Powered grant for our Unconditional Education work in the Bay Area! Last week Robin Detterman, Executive Director of School Partnerships, shared the stage with the 11 other finalists during Battery Powered Organization Night to collectively demonstrate how each organization is tackling the issue of mental health by focusing on:
Robin illustrated how Seneca prioritizes mental health through its Unconditional Education school partnership model that helps transform schools into inclusive communities that serve all students. If selected, Battery Powered funding would support Unconditional Education efforts in Oakland, California, supporting up to 1,300 students and 100 school staff. We are so grateful for this recognition and opportunity to highlight Unconditional Education alongside so many passionate and amazing organizations working diligently to address mental health in our communities. Check out highlights from Organization Night and read Healed People Heal People... on the Battery Powered website. Express what #UnconditionalEducation means to you and join the conversation by sharing their Facebook Post!
Building the capacity of staff and school systems to deliver trauma-informed equity-oriented supports to students and families is a core component of our mission at All-In! Our Unconditional Education (UE) Training Team is made up of more than forty Seneca staff who offer their passion and experience to teachers, school staff, and parents by leading professional development sessions and workshops. So far in the 2019-20 school year, Seneca staff have provided over 70 trainings at partner schools and organizations across the Bay Area, in addition to a number of trainings staff have led in Los Angeles, Washington state, and New Orleans.
We recently collected 26 responses from our Professional Development Trainer Survey to gather input and feedback from our UE Training Team where respondents shared highlights as well as recommendations for how we can bolster the trainings we offer. Many of the trainers expressed their appreciation of facilitating and creating brave learning spaces that tied in the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to build community with school leaders. Moreover others noted that we have a lot more work to do in integrating DEI thoroughly throughout our content offerings so this will be a key area of focus and action beginning this spring.
The Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project based at the University of Chicago has an inspiring framework that outlines the needs for this type of integration and valuable resources to offer individuals and schools. With much respect and appreciation to our UE Trainers who put in above-and-beyond effort to lead trainings in addition to all the other tasks they hold in their roles, we look forward to building more community among our team and working to enhance program based on the valuable feedback we gathered.
Happy February! It's hard to believe that the school year is more than halfway over. Time flies when you're having fun, right? At this time of year, we like to take a breath, step back and ask our partners for feedback on how things are going within our partnerships. The UE Mid-Year Survey is conducted through the month of January and gives us a good read on how things are going. This feedback highlights our successes and areas for improvement, helping us to focus our intentions through the end of the year.
This year, our surveys yielded some exciting feedback about our partnerships so far. The first highlight we saw in the data spoke to the development of both our practices over time and how we have embedded ourselves in the schools we are partnered with. We saw an increase in the number of schools that participated in the survey from 69% in 2019 to 97% this year with over 500 individual respondents! #Together
The Mid-Year Partnership Survey asks our partners how we are doing with components of the UE Model related to Culture and Climate, Direct Services and Progress Reporting. For students receiving direct services at our school sites we asked our partners two questions:
As one of the three main program goals for the 2019-2020 school year, data collection and progress reporting has been on everyone's minds this year. A lot of time, effort and attention has been given this year across our Academic, Behavioral and Clinical teams to develop and implement effective, meaningful practices within their partnership sites. At this mid-year point, we were curious if progress and outcome reports were shared and used for collaboration during meetings with service providers and found that 73% of respondents agreed that they were! While the goal for the year is at least 80% agreement, we celebrate that this is up from 68% this time last year and embrace this forward momentum headed into the second half of the year. #Datatellsastory
All these numbers, while exciting and informative, don't tell the whole story. We also ask our partners for specific feedback and suggestions on how we collaborate and support the growth of our partnerships. This year, aside from being overwhelmingly positive, we noticed a very interesting shift in the qualitative feedback we received. There was a very clear trend this year of school staff expressing a desire for continued collaboration and progress sharing so that they are more able to support the growth of their students. We love seeing this constructive feedback, as it exemplifies the mindset that we are trying to build at partnerships schools, that all students are the responsibility of all staff. #Twofer
We are looking forward to hearing from all our partners again during our End-of-Year Partnership Survey. Without feedback and collaboration from our partners, we couldn't do what we set out to do. While we wait, here are some more partnership highlights from the year so far #Together:
All-in’s Department of Strategic Initiatives has been working hard to think about the dissemination of our model and approach with a broader community. In that vein, I have been afforded the opportunity to work closely with our internal lead training team (Jason Keppe, Jordan Ullman, William Chiang) to codify our existing systems and structures to better support the coordination of trainings for our partners and think about how to extend the great work that is already happening in the area of training and development.
In this endeavor I have been amazed to see how far our training content has been developed over the years and how much expertise exists within our program. So far this school year All-in staff have facilitated 32 training sessions. Here is a snapshot of the types of trainings and some summative data on how others experienced the training sessions:
Part of this work has also led me to think about the ways in which we can continue to support the growth of staff who facilitate learning journeys for others on school campuses across our program. As well as think about how we can establish structures for continuing to iterate on existing content to ensure they are current and continue to be designed with an equity lens.
Those of us who are given the opportunity to guide learning for others have a tremendous opportunity to create spaces for others to think, reflect, draw new conclusions or confirm existing beliefs. Recently, I have been thinking about what conditions are necessary for others in order to do their best learning.
Here is an article that offers a take on the important factors that influence change in practice:
I’d love to hear more about what you think is important for you or others to do their best learning together.
One of our Occupational Therapists, Mollie Roark, led a Professional Development Training at Lazear Charter Academy for teachers and school staff several weeks ago. She did an amazing job at explaining what Occupational Therapy is and suggested several strategies that can be implemented inside the classroom for students. Great work, Mollie!
School Program Partnerships
Interested in joining our School Program Partnerships' Team? Check out our open positions below!