Virtual Professional Development for Social Emotional Learning Schools & Teachers

Virtual Professional Development for SEL

Schools that have a focus on social emotional learning must engage in professional development training to learn and develop the best trauma-informed practices. Social emotional learning is vital right now during these uncertain times of health as our world is impacted with the Coronavirus and months of quarantine. 

Teachers more than ever need training on how to best provide instruction to help their students thrive socially, emotionally, cognitively, and academically along with tips for and support in taking care of themselves, so that they can show up for their students each day to the very best of their ability.

Stay-at-home orders have caused increased trauma and stress in our students’ lives as families quickly began months of virtual learning, working from home, potential loss of family members, loss of jobs, and more. 

Read the 5 Essential Steps for Building a Trauma-Informed School

Studies have shown that students exposed to trauma and toxic stress can be impacted in many ways. Socially and emotionally, students could show higher levels of sadness, anxiousness, hyperactivity, impulsivity and increased aggression. Cognitively, students could show attention difficulties, disrupted neurodevelopment, and decreased verbal abilities. Academically, students could be impacted and show lower reading and math scores, increased absenteeism, SPED referrals, retention, discipline referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. 

As our world adjusts to the new normal, we must shift our practice of developing teachers to virtual-based professional development ensuring that practices around meaningful virtual engagement as well as student voice and choice are included as trauma-informed practices. 

If your school is on its journey to becoming a trauma-informed school, the leadership team should have already built a common understanding of what trauma-informed learning is, assembled a team composed of individuals representing different areas of your school, and planned strategically for what this will look like in your school. Some professional development training should occur before students begin and some training should occur systematically throughout the school year.

Kickboard has divided social emotional professional development into two phases, depending on where schools are in their journey.

Phase 1 PD sessions are for schools in the beginning of their journey toward being trauma-informed:

  • Trauma-Informed Practices: Audit and Recommendations
  • Fostering Resilience in a Better Normal
  • Building a Common Understanding of Trauma and Resilience
  • Action Planning for Becoming a Trauma-Informed School

Phase 1 sessions are designed to help schools launch social emotional learning intentionally with staff and prepare for initial implementation with students. Leaders first need to complete an audit to determine where they are and be able to set goals for the school. This includes but is not limited to interviews of leaders, staff, students, surveys, data analysis, etc. 

Once recommendations have been given and goals are set, staff need to build their understanding of trauma-informed practices and how to foster resilience. These trainings can happen virtually with the entire staff to build knowledge, common language, staff community, understanding and equip staff with tools to work with student trauma and foster resiliency. 

Lastly, the implementation plan for the school is presented to the staff. One way to do this virtually is to divide sessions between new teachers and returning teachers to differentiate for the levels of teachers within the school. Newer teachers could receive professional development on the curriculum and action plan for implementation. Returning teachers could receive virtual professional development on best strategies and collaborate on ways to better utilize social emotional learning within their virtual classrooms.

Phase 2 of professional developments sessions include:

  • Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms with Teachers
  • Coaching Teachers to Effectively Use Trauma-Informed Practices
  • Monitoring Progress of Trauma-Informed Practices

Phase 2 is all about implementation, monitoring, and evaluating your schools’ social emotional learning program and trauma-informed practices. Most teachers have not been trained in virtual social emotional learning strategies and techniques, so what leader expectations are for curriculum usage, timing, and how to weave it throughout virtual lessons will have to be clearly defined and practiced. 

Teachers need time to practice strategies and ways to integrate best practices into all content areas they teach, not just within their specific social emotional curriculum time. Leaders can divide the staff into grade level bands for these virtual professional development sessions, as these practices will look different for each grade. Teachers could also have 1:1 sessions with their coaches to practice strategies and lessons before teaching students. 

Leaders and coaches need training in how to best support teachers in this current time of trauma and stress. Teachers need support with how to prioritize their emotional wellbeing and how to best care for the emotional and social wellbeing of their students. Coaches need to support teachers in how to create a virtual trauma-informed learning environment. If your school uses a specific curriculum, teachers need support in internalization and implementation. 

Leaders and teachers need virtual professional development dedicated to understanding how to teach and care for the social and emotional wellbeing of their students. Strong and differentiated virtual professional development will help teachers provide the best instruction to help their students thrive socially, emotionally, cognitively, and academically.

See Trauma-Informed schools PD for more information.