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Compassionate School Practices
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Compassionate School Practices
Fostering Children's Mental Health and Well-Being

  • Christine Mason - Founder and Executive Director, Center for Educational Improvement
  • Dana Asby - Director of Innovation & Research Support, Center for Educational Improvement
  • Meghan Wenzel - Researcher, Center for Educational Improvement
  • Katherine T. Volk - Senior Advisor, C4 Innovates
  • Martha Staeheli - Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Additional resources:


March 2021 | 296 pages | Corwin
Already Ready For What Will Come - SEL For A Culture Of Care

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.
 
 
Online Resources
 
Foreword
 
Preface
Why Is This Book Important Now?

 
Who Should Read This Book?

 
What Will I Be Able to Do Once I Finish This Book?

 
Acronym Guide

 
Why Is This Book Important Outside of New England and the United States?

 
A Framework for Cultivating Well-Being in Schools

 
Key Principles

 
 
Acknowledgments
 
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

 
Adaptive 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

 
School Safety

 
Principals Set Policies and Protocols

 
Self-Care Exercises

 
 
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

 
Key Players

 
Wraparound Services

 
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

 
Cultural Considerations

 
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

 
 
References
 
Index

Supplements

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.

Mark A. Smylie, Professor Emeritus
College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

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.

Dennis Shirley, Duganne Faculty Fellow and Professor
Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College

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.

Jeff Ikler and Kirsten Richert
Authors, Shifting: How School Leaders Can Create a Culture of Change

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.

Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director
AASA, The School Superintendents Association

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.

Steve Gross, Chief Playmaker
The Life is Good Playmakers

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!

Akeem N. Marsh, Psychiatrist
Bellevue Hospital Center, NYU School of Medicine

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!

Paul Liabenow, Executive Director
Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA)

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. 

Kimberly Noble, Professor of Neuroscience & Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

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!

Mark Terry, Deputy Executive Director
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA)

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.

Jane Kise, Ed.D., Principal
Differentiated Coaching Associates

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ISBN: 9781071820490
£26.99