The School Based Mental Health Collaboration (SBMHC), Teachers College, Columbia University, is a comprehensive and developmentally grounded on-site university-school program. Psychological consultants and school stakeholders work as mental health partners to develop a cohesive social and emotional framework and improved mental health services.
As an experienced teacher, it was amazing to have new eyes focused on the SEL aspects of the classroom and to rethink certain classroom arrangements. It helped children to solve problems and to develop greater self-awareness. Working with SBMHC made teaching my class so much easier.
I have been very pleased with the collaboration and efforts of the professionals at SBMHC. They work alongside me to provide individualized strategies that effectively meet the needs of my students. As a result, my students feel very secure and successful.
Being able to have someone on site who really can see first hand what’s going and what the struggle is, because each teachers is an individual; they have their own unique struggles with these things. They need that ongoing feedback, conversation and problem solving because its not always easy to identify why something is going on with particular children. We need to put our heads together and continuously revisit a case, try some strategies, see if they’re effective…. I do think a combination of building some background knowledge in a workshop situation…with coaching in between, is the best model because there are still gaps in understanding.
The SBMHC consultant successfully utilized the [SEL] curriculum to expose students to a variety of "real world" topics including managing stress, handling put-downs and dealing with rumors. [The strategies that she taught] epitomize what we strive for students to be able to independently transfer to situations when they encounter conflict. Additionally, having the SBMHC as a thought-partner and collaborator has been an immense help…She brought a fresh and positive perspective to our planning time each week, which helped me to re-frame my outlook on future outcomes. One of the most meaningful situations for me was when my consultant even offered to assist with a difficult parent conversation on a day that she was not even scheduled to be in my classroom. Her level-headed and calm demeanor helped all parties of the meeting feel heard… Overall, I strongly encourage schools to utilize the services the SBMHC. I've seen students really benefit from this year-long program…I believe getting insights into non-academic areas of their lives helped me be a more empathetic and compassionate teacher, which are both traits that the program nurtures in the students too.
My SBMHC consultant has earned the children's trust, and… has given the children "tools for their tool box." These are the strategies she teaches in Second Step and reinforces elsewhere. These skills may not come in handy today, or even tomorrow, but they will be drawn on as the kids go through life. And these tools are important given that many children are facing threats to their very survival. You're [also] giving me a tool to put in my box that may save my life!
I think that it’s [social-emotional learning] always given a good deal of lip service. We know that it’s got such a huge impact on student learning and achievement. However, I think a lot of times it sort of gets lost in the shuffle because obviously as teachers we’ve got a lot of requirements in terms of curriculum and a lot of the professional development that we receive, you know, is focused on academic areas and things like that. It’s like, you recognize it’s importance and you know its impact, but it kind of takes a backseat to the instructional aspect of it. Personally it’s too bad because I don’t think without that social emotional piece put first, without that in order, it’s very difficult to achieve any sort of success in the classroom.