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Start at Tier 1 to Support Students’ Social Emotional Behavior Needs

For children and adolescents, the shelter-in-place experience likely resulted in a variety of social-emotional behavior (SEB) reactions. Many students probably felt some initial sense of relief—even excitement—at the prospect of being away from the routines and challenges of school. However, most students also likely experienced some sense of confusion, fear, and loss as the shelter-in-place orders persisted over time. And for some, this experience may have triggered significant, persistent reactions that could require professional support.

Teachers and parents will need to be prepared to offer deliberate and strategic support to nurture all students’ SEB needs when learning resumes whether it’s onsite or remotely.

What social emotional behaviors to expect

It will likely be difficult for students to focus on academic learning and typical school routines in the same way they did pre-pandemic. Young children may demonstrate more difficulty sitting still and engaging in learning activities, which may be amplified when acclimating to a virtual classroom setting.

Older children and adolescents may seek social engagement with peers to an even greater extent than before. Children with more introverted or reactive temperaments may feel overwhelmed by pressures for socialization and could seek to isolate themselves. Clearly, these issues will present challenges for teachers who are trying to adapt to new circumstances while helping students catch up on their learning.

When students return to school either in-person or remotely, be prepared for the social-emotional behavior challenges students may experience during this transition. It’s important to remain flexible and ready to adapt plans and activities according to student responses. You’ll undoubtedly feel a tremendous sense of urgency to catch students up academically.

But, diving into academics could fail to allow sufficient time to assist students in adapting socially, emotionally, and behaviorally.

How to adapt tier 1 social emotional behavior strategies

To successfully navigate these uncharted waters, the familiar framework for a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) can be especially useful. Remember that the foundation of MTSS is the use of data (formal and informal) to make decisions about how to most effectively meet students’ learning and social-emotional behavior needs. No one can predict how each child will react and what each will need to adjust to old and new routines until there is an opportunity to re-engage and assess their status through formal and informal procedures. However, because all students have experienced significant disruption in their lives, there will need to be SEB supports provided for everyone as a Tier I response.

These activities should include significant time to process and reflect together on what we have all experienced and how we can support one another going forward. These universal supports should have built-in opportunities for collecting, recording and discussing patterns and trends observed. With these data, educators can begin to understand those needs that are reflected across many students and plan for support and learning in these areas throughout the instructional day.

4 Tips for Preparing to Provide Tier 1 Supports

  1. Identify and review key sources of research-based information about students’ SEB functioning. Select resources to use in planning SEB teaching and learning strategies that address the needs of students at the age level(s) you teach/support. Highlight key points and strategies that you want to remember and/or use with your students. Also, look for and select strategies for understanding student needs and how you might assess students in formal and informal ways.
  2. Establish a specific plan for how and when you will build in sufficient time for supporting students’ SEB functioning
  3. Prepare resources and lessons as necessary for your social-emotional behavior learning plans.
  4. Provide parents with key information regarding the importance of supporting students’ SEB functioning during the transition back to school. Include information about how you will support your students, as well as how parents can continue that support at home and what to do if they have questions or concerns.

Here are two recommended resources for both teachers and parents:

To learn more about implementing SEB activities targeted at Tier 1 supports, watch Dr. Greg Fabiano’s two-part on-demand webinar series on restarting learning during COVID.

***FastBridge’s assessment tools are the only K-12 solution to provide screening and progress monitoring across math, reading, and SEB functioning. To learn how you can use the Illuminate assessment solution to inform teaching and support students’ learning needs—whether in an onsite, remote, or hybrid environment—contact us to schedule a demo.

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