Making Connections: Linking Students and Schools for Success
Rossen, Eric, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique
Over recent years, the annual NASP School Psychology Awareness Week poster has been designed with the purpose of doing more than decorating your door, hall, or office. Now, with a message that speaks directly to students as well as staff and parents at school, the poster can serve as a counseling tool or kick-off point for a number of activities related to the theme, "Every link matters. Make a connection." Your poster is meant to inspire students and adults, and even you. When you hang this poster up on the wall, consider placing it in a strategic location so that you can refer to it as needed when providing direct services to students. Or, hang the poster in a public space near your office and print out a PDF version to hang in your work area or carry with you in your briefcase. (Note. A limited quantity of additional posters is available upon request.) Some suggestions for how to use the poster appear below.
Friendships and social skills. Consider the links that are inherent in friendships and other social relationships at school. Have students brainstorm their personal connections in and out of school and determine which types of connections are most important to them and why. Have students brainstorm the specific skills that help others integrate into a social environment (e.g., what skills do you use to invite someone into a group; what skills do you use to join a group playing basketball on the playground). Use the pictures on the poster as a jumping off point for a discussion about different types of connections (e.g., have students determine which seem easiest or most challenging to them).
Challenge your students to create a stop bullying chain. Encourage students at your school building to reach out and connect with one another in positive ways to stop bullying. When each student makes a connection, have that student write his or her behavior on a piece of paper than can be formed into a link. Hang links for each grade in a common area of the school and challenge students to see which grade can form the longest chain. Give each grade its own paper color and at the end of project, link the chains together to show how connected to caring the students are. Reward students with a fun activity such as extra recess or computer time. (Note. This project can be started during School Psychology Awareness Week and continued for a longer time period- e.g., until the end of the marking period- to help build momentum.)
Connect with school-wide positive behavior supports. Make connections with positive behavior supports through group activities. Consider having an adult facilitate student hallway monitors (a great reward activity for students to earn as part of individual behavior plans). Encourage monitors to connect with the greater student body though positive communication and reinforcing prosocial hallway behavior. Consider rewarding positive behavior with connection opportunities, such as cooperative play (e.g., puzzles, games, prosocial sport activities).
Create your own ways to connect. Work with the art teacher or individually with students to have them create personal posters depicting the ways they reach out and connect with one another. Dedicate a "We Are Connected" wall in a public area for displaying the students' posters.
Link academic learning to the real world. So many times children ask us, "Why do I have to know this?" Help teachers connect the academic in their lessons to experiences students and adults encounter in the real world. For example, connect math to family budgeting or determining prices of items on sale; history to local, national, or international current events; and ing to ordering food in a restaurant or following directions while driving.
Connect with your team members. Take time during School Psychology Awareness Week or other times in the school year to step back from immediate problem solving to devote time to talking about the links that you all have made with specific students and other connections that you might facilitate that might be helpful to them. …