In the 90s, I worked as a school psychologist and then as an administrator in urban and rural settings. I used my graduate training in behavior management to help students overcome challenges and meet classroom expectations.
I have since spent almost two decades training future educators and conducting research on school-based behavior assessment and intervention tools for educators. I can say with confidence that my work has resulted in many successes, but I also know we have advanced significantly in our understanding of how to attend to the “whole child” since my early work in schools. I often think about how my colleagues and I might have done more for our students.
Eric, for example, was a fifth-grader in a rural setting where school was the only way to access support. Eric presented with cognitive delays and had displayed intensive behavioral challenges to the extent that he (and his younger brother) was placed in special school settings. Our meager team worked hard to support Eric, but at each meeting with his family, it was apparent that more intensive home supports were needed. We were left feeling dissuaded that we could enact real change.
I remember another student, Josh, who was a second-grader in an urban school. He struggled to meet academic expectations, displayed moderate behavioral challenges, and was frequently tardy. Our support team worked with his teachers to design skill-based intervention plans. We occasionally commented on the lack of home supports, but our practice did not include deeper inquiry that might have brought a better understanding of the whole picture of Josh’s life.
Today, we know more about the science behind adverse child experiences and how to foster resilience in students like Eric and Josh. I often wonder if the countless hours we spent did enough for them – meeting with student-support teams, volunteering for classroom field trips, even just playing Connect 4 to give students a break. How much more effective could we have been if we’d taken a more whole-child approach?
To continue reading this article by Sandra M. Chafouleas, professor in the Neag School of Education and co-director of the Collaboratory on School and Child Health at the University of Connecticut, go to http://edprepmatters.net/2016/...ducator-preparation/