A program to reduce stress and anxiety in school communities.
Jeff and John Broderick, Senior Director of External Affairs for Dartmouth Health, are offering professional development workshops for educators. More information can be found here.
The Reconnection Project
The Reconnection Project (RP) is a flexible program to reduce stress and anxiety in school communities by working with all three constituent groups: teachers, parents, and students.
The Reconnection Project
- Teaches students emotional skills to help them manage stress, develop self-awareness, and build confidence and resilience.
- Teaches staff how to incorporate those skills into what they are already teaching and provides staff support for classroom challenges.
- Educates parents about the problem and gives them the parenting skills to teach these skills at home.
Our children’s mental health was suffering before COVID; now it is significantly worse, and even many seemingly OK kids are now at risk.
Many parents and educators know that their children—their own children, their friends’ or relatives’ children, and/or the children they teach or coach—are sad, depressed, and/or anxious. In fact, many children themselves know they have a problem. However, almost everyone is at a loss as to why this has happened or how to fix it.
The causes are cultural and, as a result, many children today miss psychological “lessons” crucial to normal child development that previous generations used to learn by osmosis. Interestingly, many of the behaviors adults are worried about (which are often reported in the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveys), such as vaping, sexting, bullying (cyber and otherwise), suicidal ideology, or even over-functioning are also related to these cultural changes.
Fortunately, children today are hard-wired for connection and growth the same way they have always been. In fact, they crave these things. So we can remedially teach these psychological lessons and thus dramatically improve the mental health of many of today’s kids.
The Reconnection Project works with all school constituencies—parents, boards, administrators, teachers, other community members, and students—to understand what is happening and to collaborate to teach kids these emotional skills so their stress and anxiety levels are measurably reduced. Our objectives are:
- Teach students emotional skills to help them manage stress, develop self-awareness, and build confidence and resilience.
- Teach staff how to incorporate those skills into what they are already teaching and provide staff support for classroom challenges.
- Educate parents about the problem and give them the parenting skills to teach these skills at home.
To accomplish this, The Reconnection Project provides a mental wellness umbrella for staff, students, and parents that encompasses as many members of the school community as possible: the goal is to give all three constituencies safety, hope, agency, and the means to change their culture so they can permanently and measurably reduce stress and anxiety for the entire school community.
- Give everyone hope.
- Give teachers and students structure and support for mental health.
- Allow educators and kids to start to understand and reduce their stress and anxiety.
- Give teachers concrete tools for self- and colleague care.
- Provide tools to help teachers reduce stress and anxiety in their students (Connected Classroom).
- Begin to open up constructive lines of communication with parents leading to their collaboration and give parents tools to reduce stress and anxiety at home.
We really like to use existing metrics whenever possible. A metrics plan developed with administrators determines what performance metrics—such as attendance, grades, student compliance, time-on-learning, discipline referrals, nurse visits because of mental health issues, and parent and teacher observations—can be used for students. Teacher attrition and sick time taken can be used for teachers. We can also use existing surveys, if available, to gauge improvements in mental health or are happy to administer surveys to all three constituencies and run focus groups to solicit student, educator, and parent feedback to assess the RP’s effectiveness.
This program is completely flexible. Ideally, to cover all of the material listed here, we like to work with all three constituencies over at least three months, but we understand that that is not always possible. We can work with one, two, or all three constituencies. We can start with a small piece of our program. However, this really is the type of program where the more we do, the better the results. And, in our case, more hours can result in a cost savings for you on our daily rate. We encourage you to contact us so we can discuss what would be best for your school or district.
Here is more information on the Reconnection Project.