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Compassionate School Practices
Foreword by Larry Davidson
Establish a compassionate cultural foundation for strong relationships and holistic skills to weather stress, trauma, and promote well-being for your school population.
- Grade Level: PreK-12
- ISBN: 9781071820490
- Published By: Corwin
- Year: 2021
- Page Count: 296
- Publication date: January 27, 2021
Is your school prepared to care for all of the students, staff, and families in your community? Sadly, your school might be the only point of care for many. Be already ready--Establish a compassionate cultural foundation for strong relationships and holistic skills to weather stress, trauma, and promote well-being for your entire school population.
Help your school or district use available resources to create a compassionate culture of justice and care for all by leaning into this book’s approach to leadership and social emotional learning. Discover a collaborative visioning process to elevate compassion through dialogue, policies, and protocol. Readers will find:
- Practical strategies for working with parents and communities
- Activities for the whole school
- An implementation framework for elementary, middle, and high school
- Deeper understanding of trauma, ACEs, and mental health concerns
- Support for teachers’ mental health
- What not to do – practices that don’t work, and why
- In-depth case studies and vignettes
Read this and usher in transformational and compassionate change that may be the difference in whatever today, tomorrow, or the next day may bring.
Readers will find:
· Practical strategies for working with parents and communities
· Activities for the whole school
· Framework for implementing with fidelity in elementary, middle, and high school
· Deeper understanding of trauma, ACEs, and mental health concerns
· Support for teachers’ mental health
· What not to do – common practices that don’t work, and why
· In-depth case studies and vignettes from the authors’ experience implementing these practices in schools across New England, with takeaways that apply across the country
Table of Contents
Why Is This Book Important Now?
Who Should Read This Book?
What Will I Be Able to Do Once I Finish This Book?
Why Is This Book Important Outside of New England and the United States?
A Framework for Cultivating Well-Being in Schools
About the Authors
Part 1: Needs and Approaches
Chapter 1. The Why? What? and How?
I. WHY Is a Focus on Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being So Critical Right Now?
Educators as Protective Factors
Why Are Teachers and Schools Not Better Prepared?
Risk Factors Influencing the Increase in Behavioral and Emotional Challenges
The Influence of Trauma on Mental Health
Equity Issues in Access to Mental Health Support and Advocacy
When a Crisis Strikes
II. WHAT Do We Need?
III. HOW Can We Approach Mental Health in Schools?
Partnerships for Building Student Mental Health and Well-Being
Implementation of Heart Centered Learning (HCL) in New England
The Power of Community-Based Approaches
Chapter 2. Best Practices for a Healthy School Climate and School Culture
How Can Schools Improve Children’s Well-Being?
A Model for School Cultures That Foster Mental Health
The Five Cs of Heart Centered Learning: Strategies to Take a Schoolwide Approach to Supporting Staff and Student Well-Being
The Five Cs
Using Heart Centered Learning to Build Compassionate School Communities in New England Through Visioning
Chapter 3. Tiered Systems and Mental Health Screening
Learning From History
ACES and Social Emotional Learning
The Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports
Universal Screening in Schools
How Are We Screening and Why?
Potential Issues in Screening
More on the Tiers of Systems of Supports
Following Up and Fostering a Support System
Chapter 4. Considerations for Staff Mental Health and Well-Being
Uncertainty and Isolation
Staff Stress and Trauma Are at an All-Time High
What Stressors Are Unique to Educators?
Teacher Attrition Is at an All-Time High
The Relationship Between Student Trauma and Teacher Stress
Understanding Current Needs and Concerns
Practical Solutions to Improve Educator Mental Health and Well-Being
A Schoolwide Approach to Foster Well-Being
Part 2: Leadership
Chapter 5. Adaptive Leadership Within the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative
Resiliency and Finding Hope
Leading in a Time of Fear and Uncertainty
Action Informed by Assessment
The Importance of Professional Development
What Is Effective School Leadership?
Characteristics of Transformational School Leaders
School Leaders as Change Agents
Evolving Leadership: Being Inclusive and Visionary
Transactional School Leadership Management Practices
Balancing Transformational and Transactional Leadership
Chapter 6. Caring and Competent Leadership for Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being
Understanding Our Vulnerabilities: Leading With Care, Love, and Acceptance
Three Overlapping Lenses to Develop Positive School Leadership and Improve Children’s Well-Being
Caring School Leadership
Heart Centered Mindful School Leadership
Addressing Mental Health Concerns With the Compassionate School Mental Health Model
Principals Set Policies and Protocols
Part 3: Child and Family Supports
Chapter 7. Belonging and Building Community
The Drive to Belong
Belonging: A Psychological Need
Finding that One Caring Adult
School and Agency Collaboration
Strategies for Getting Started
Chapter 8. How Schools Can Help Families
A Sense of Urgency
Communication Is a Two-Way Street
Increasing Mental Health Literacy
When a Mental Health Diagnosis Is Part of the Equation
Home School Collaboration
The Transmission of Trauma
Working to Heal Intergenerational Trauma by Cultivating Compassionate School Communities
Offering Parent Education to Foster Compassionate Parenting
Parent Teacher Associations: A Network Made to Partner With Schools
Reflections on Strengthening Mental Health and Well-Being: Leverage Parent Resources to Fulfill Needs, Wants, and Dreams
Part 4: The Future
Chapter 9. Reaching Our Destiny—Overcoming Challenges and Moving Forward
Our Encounter With Destiny
Time for Reflection Allows for Visioning
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Mark A. Smylie, Professor Emeritus
This book is a vital resource for all educators who are dedicated to promoting student mental health and well-being. Built on a solid foundation of research and experience working with schools, Christine Mason and her colleagues offer readers key principles and actionable strategies, stories that illustrate and inspire, exercises to reflect upon and apply lessons to one’s own school, and references to numerous additional online sources. The heart and soul of this book are clear and present on every page—the centrality of caring, compassion, and community to the ability of students to thrive in school. I would highly recommend this book in ordinary times. In this period of uncertainty, unrest, and distress, it is indispensable.
College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
Dennis Shirley, Duganne Faculty Fellow and Professor
This outstanding contribution to the literature on our students' mental health and well-being provides an exemplary blend of cutting-edge research, step-by-step practical interventions, and a true humanistic vision for the future of our schools and society. Before COVID-19 this book would have been important; today it is indispensable. Wherever you are teaching or working in the education sector, Compassionate School Practices is essential reading for all of us, both during the pandemic and in the years to come.
Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College
Jeff Ikler and Kirsten Richert
As schools begin to shift away from the industrial model of education, we see many implementing student-centered and inquiry-based practices that are designed to help students develop their curiosity and become more proficient thinkers and problem solvers. While these practices are laudable, the unaddressed mental health needs of many students will stand in the way of desired progress for all. Thankfully, Compassionate School Practices offers an easy-to-follow four-phase model and a series of nine principles to help school personnel, parents, and psychologists better support students’ social and emotional well-being. Simply put, the authors’ approach puts much needed structure into what for many educators may otherwise be just a vague directive. This book’s compassionate voice and sound tools unlock the promise that successful schools going forward will balance students’ acquisition and the demonstration of knowledge with proper attention to their social and emotional needs.
Authors, Shifting: How School Leaders Can Create a Culture of Change
Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director
I started my career as a teacher in the New York City neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant where many students came to class hungry, sick, abused, homeless, or all of the above. It was then when I first realized the health and welfare of our students surpasses the importance of their academic achievement. That was 1968. Fast forward to today. Suicides rates are the highest they’ve ever been. Drug use is just as alarming, which begs the question, “What’s more important, scores on a test or keeping kids alive?” Compassionate Schools Practices unpacks a myriad of informative principles that can help school systems build a framework to enhance their social and emotional programs. The well-being of a child is of the utmost importance, especially during this public health crisis. The demand for quality SEL is at an all-time high. I applaud the authors for creating this resource.
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
Steve Gross, Chief Playmaker
Quality education cannot exist in the absence of compassion. And even if it could, it would be difficult - if not impossible - for such “education” to be applied in a way that would move humanity forward. This book provides a comprehensive and evidence-based blueprint for how to create a heart centered and compassionate school environment that allows all children - especially our most vulnerable - to heal, learn, and thrive.
The Life is Good Playmakers
Akeem N. Marsh, Psychiatrist
When it comes to children's mental health, school is among the biggest stressors that kids have to deal with. Compassionate Schools Practices is the bridge that we need to redesign the school system in a way to meet the needs of youth. If we are able to implement at least some of the recommendations, all of us stand to substantially benefit!
Bellevue Hospital Center, NYU School of Medicine
Paul Liabenow, Executive Director
Compassionate School Practices captures our imagination, with principles and action steps to strengthen student mental health and well-being. The authors offer a practical approach that goes beyond screening and identification as it promotes collective kindness and caring. Their blueprint for schools shows how to embed compassion into everyday interactions between teachers and students to bolster student self-esteem, while strengthening self-care practices. They show us how to uplift our neighbors and our communities so that schools first and foremost address what is most important -- the lives, the hearts, the souls of students, families, and ourselves. An inspirational work that is so needed today!
Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA)
Kimberly Noble, Professor of Neuroscience & Education
An important new look at how we can foster mental health in schools. Educators have the capacity to buffer against adversities their students face, and schools can lessen the impact of trauma and toxic stress. At the same time, teachers themselves face unique stressors. Mason, Asby, Wenzel, Volk, and Staeheli present numerous practical suggestions for promoting mental health and well-being among students and teachers alike.
Teachers College, Columbia University
Mark Terry, Deputy Executive Director
In the midst of this horrific pandemic, there’s more than learning on the minds of educators. Many youth depend on teachers and their schools to connect with peers and caring adults. Mason and her co-authors provide valuable insights as they tell the story of the New England Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative - stories from principals, social workers, teachers and school psychologists, about how they are building student self-esteem and resiliency, and how they are teaching while addressing the critical needs of students who are most at-risk. Whether learning is virtual, hybrid, or in-person, caring leaders will be inspired by the network of practices, guidelines, and resources that Compassionate School Practices provides. An ideal book for book studies, an ideal blueprint for a brighter future, an ideal resource for transforming education and transforming lives!
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA)
Jane Kise, Ed.D., Principal
The social and emotional health of students is interdependent with that of teachers and school leaders. But one-size-fits-all or piecemeal programs won't improve true resilience. Compassionate School Practices provides the tools you need to be intentional about identifying your learning community's current needs and your capacity to influence, no matter your position. And you'll discover research-based strategies for self-care, for assessing student needs, for increasing needed staff knowledge--and more--to create the safe and supportive environments that lead to serving and educating the whole child.
Differentiated Coaching Associates
Songtian (Tim) Zeng, Assistant Professor
This publication is a timely contribution to promote child and youth’s social emotional development. It provides a useful ecological framework and specific practices that educators and specialists may incorporate into their daily work.
College of Education and Human Development Research Director, Institute for Early Education Leadership & Innovation University of Massachusetts
Compassionate School Practices exemplifies Mason’s expertise in the field of Mindful Education, and creates real-world learning for “whole educators” who truly wish to address social emotional issues with their students. Mindfulness, restorative justice, equity, trauma informed care—it’s all wrapped into a single cohesive message here with practical applications for the modern teacher. This is a book every educator must own.
Mindfulness Coordinator, Montgomery County Public Schools
Rachel Santa, Ed.D
Teaching the facts of mental illness in schools is comparable to teaching students rote math facts without understanding the systems that numbers function in and how this is applied to solve problems. Having basic knowledge of a subject does not lend itself to deeper thinking to promote both individual and systemic growth. Without analyzing our data, identifying areas of need, and altering how we navigate mental illness we will inevitably continue to repeat the same pattern of misunderstanding and inadequate treatment. Compassionate School Practices provides thoughtful exercises to guide your district in identifying specific areas of need, integrating these into your district vision, and developing comprehensive professional development. This is not an expensive initiative that is implemented and forgotten, but rather a process to shift the collective understanding and treatment of mental illness. Building protective measures of resilience and compassion helps to vaccinate your students and staff against complacency and despair that affects generations.
Valerie Brown, Leadership Coach
Our schools, our children, our society face a profound moment of reckoning with global pandemic, climate crisis, political polarization, systemic and structural racial and social injustice, and more. These times call for a mindshift of being, thinking, and acting, and that begins with centering compassion, mindfulness, empathy, and kindness within our schools. This book is rich in solid research and practices that supports teaching and learning through mindfulness, trust building, cultivating belonging and awareness, and more. It is a must-read for educators seeking to meet the challenges of our time with evidence-based, equity-centered practices that support growth and learning to heal our school communities and our world.
Co-author, The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School
Ellen L. Bassuk, Founder
The authors conceive of a heart-centered, compassionate learning community bound together by trusting, safe, authentic relationships that include the child, family, educators and the broader community. Central to their vision is a single caring adult who supports each student, and is embedded in both the school and surrounding community. This approach builds a trauma informed school culture that enhances children’s health and well-being. Their strategy is supported by tools and tips that makes the implementation of this creative vision possible. This visionary book would be transformative and is a must-read for everyone involved in helping children grow and thrive.
Who better to guide our children’s mental health than our educators? Compassionate School Practices gives a comprehensive blueprint to managing our mental health inadequacies in a 2020 pandemic/post pandemic world. Beyond medical diagnosis and pharmaceutical treatment, the book focuses on our most at-risk and underserved children. I have firsthand experience with a child who has thrived through services provided at school. As a physician who has worked with diverse communities, I recognize how compassionate public schools can be a healing force for vulnerable children.
Adam Grove, Physician
Finally! As crisis after crisis threatens the future of our children, we have a book that outlines specific and deeply researched ways to approach children’s mental health and wellbeing from a truly holistic, heart centered, community-based perspective. Never has the need for inspiration and resources to change the future of education been greater than now.
Head to Toe Holistic Healthcare
Norrell Edwards, Assistant Director
Compassionate Schools Practices provides useful tools for confronting the complex nexus of mental health, education and trauma. Importantly, the authors realize that educators cannot pour from an empty glass and must maintain their own well-being in order to effectively support their students in the long term. Mason reassures her audience that while there are aspects of our reality that we may be out of reach for improvement (teacher budgets, state curriculum policies, etc.), there are specific practices and strategies we can implement both on an individual and community level to combat teacher stress and burn out. The suggested resources and insights are invaluable, particularly in this era of wide-spread social instability.
Prisons and Justice Initiative, Georgetown University