Summer 2022 IMPACT Journal

Page 1


Summer 2022

Volume 47 No. 1

On Instructional Improvement

Learning & Wellness



Mission Statement

NYSASCD aims to assist educators in the development and delivery of quality instructional programs and supervisory practices to maximize success for all learners.


Executive Board 2022-2023 President Dr. Mary Loesing STEM Chairperson, Connetquot CSD

Board Members

President-Elect Dr. Mark Secaur Superintendent, Smithtown CSD

Mr. Brian Kesel Assistant Superintendent, West Genesee CSD

Immediate Past-President Dr. Ted Fulton Asst. Superintendent, Bayport-Blue Point CSD Vice President for Communications and Affiliate Relations Ms. Amanda Zullo Massena CSD

Mrs. Stefanie Olbrys Teacher, Windsor CSD

Dr. Matthew Younghans Principal, Clarkstown CSD Dr. Timothy Eagen Superintendent, Kings Park CSD Marcia Ranieri Admin. for World Language and ENL, Guilderland Central School District

Treasurer Dr. Deborah Hoeft Director of Special Eduation and Student Services Young Women’s College Prep

Gregory Borman NYC Department of Education

Secretary Dr. Martha Group Vernon-Verona -Sherrill CSD

Cindy Connors Orchard Park CSD

Ex-officio NYS Education Department Erik Sweet Curriculum & Instruction

Dr. LaQuita Outlaw Bay Shore UFSD

Executive Director Mr. Eric Larison Solvay UFSD (retired)

Lisa B. Brosnick North Collins CSD/SUNY Buffalo

Dominick A. Fantacone SUNY (Master Teacher Program)

Debbie Baker GVASCD


impact Published by: NYSASCD PO Box 282 Camillus, NY 13031

On Instructional Improvement Summer 2022 Volume 47 No. 1

Foreward...........................................................................5 Mary Loesing

Editor - IMPACT LaQuita Outlaw, Ed.D.

Introduction.....................................................................7 LaQuita Outlaw

Design & Digital Publication: CatStone Press (434) 960-0036

Building Equitable Learning Experiences.......................8 Angela Di Michele Lalor The DNA of Learning: Part I..........................................14 Robert K. Greenleaf, Elaine M. Millen, and LaVonna Roth Addressing Educator Wellness.......................................21 Diane Wynne

Publication Statement Impact on Instructional Improvement is the official journal of NYSASCD. Membership in NYSASCD includes a subscription to Impact and the newsletter, NYSASCD Developments. The views expressed or implied in the articles in this publication are not necessarily official positions of NYSASCD or the editor. 3 visit OUR WEBSITE!

As registered members of the New York State ASCD website, we want to encourage you to please visit!

Also if you aren’t already a member please consider joining New York ASCD or suggesting that a colleague join for only $55.00 annually. As a member of NYASCD you will receive our on-line newsletter, NYSASCD DEVELOPMENTS, as well as our on-line journal, Impact and discounts for all of our professional development activities. Complete information about NYSASCD may be found on our website. This website gives you information about our organization, professional development activities, information about affiliates across the state, and links to other professional organizations and resources.

join NOW 4

Introduction I think we can all agree that the last three years have been unbelievably challenging for students, teachers, administrators and families. I don’t know that there is anyone in education that has not been impacted by COVID, the lockdown and the recovery. During the initial lockdown period, we as educators tried our best to treat our students with grace and not allow the Mary Loesing, Ed.D., is the president of New York State ASCD, the Long Island STEM Education Leadership Association, and the recently retired STEM Chairperson at Connetquot School District. Dr. Loesing earned her Master of Science in Biology Education from LIU Post and doctorate in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Chicago.

educational landscape that they were experiencing to damage their grades or their mindset. Now that we are back to mostly full-time in-person education, we need to help our students engage with their lessons. Keeping students focused on what is happening in the classroom rather than what is on a screen is challenging to say the least. However, we have all seen how much more students pay attention when they are faced with an intriguing problem to solve. Now more than ever, students need to take control of

their learning by understanding what they know and what they still need to learn. Productive, actionable feedback from their teachers is one way to provide students with the knowledge that they need to move their learning forward. These last three years have also taught us the importance of self care. Taking care of our own needs helps us to be more available to our families as well as our students. Teaching students to practice self care will help them to reduce the stress they feel and to help them be able to focus on their learning. The articles in this issue of the Impact Journal address the current challenges our schools are facing and offer concrete ideas to explore. 5



The ASCD PASS program offers ASCD affiliates an opportunity to earn additional revenue. Through PASS, NYASCD can earn income

Use NYAFF when Purchasing!

from new and returning business generated for ASCD programs, products, and services. Affiliates are assigned a unique source code (ours is NYAFF), and each person that uses the affiliate codes when making an eligible purchase will be contributing to our affiliate’s financial health, further enabling us to accomplish important work.


on Social Media

Please join us and follow along:


Foreword The challenges kept coming, but you met each one and your students are better prepared for their future learning because of the steps you took throughout the school year. Each action was not without a goal-oriented approach to the instructional practices delivered in the classroom and the care given toward LaQuita Outlaw, Ed.D., has worked in school leadership for over a decade. Dr. Outlaw serves as a peer editor for Corwin Press and assists several local organizations with organizing professional development opportunities for educators across Long Island.

your staff, students, and yourself. Although you may have stumbled through all, some, or one of those areas, you made it. The authors in this edition of The Impact Journal provide more understanding around instruction and self-care. In “Building Equitable Learning Experiences through the Formative Assessment and Feedback Process,” Angela Di Michele Lalor

offers readers specific techniques that can be used to increase student performance through feedback. The suggested process takes leaders and practitioners through steps that create engagement and results. Dr. Robert “Bob” K. Greenleaf, Elaine M. Millen, and LaVonna Roth’s article “The DNA of Learning: Part I” then helps the reader look at learning differently. The authors walk us through the first part in a series to build upon the notion that intertwining the science of learning with an engaging approach is needed to create an environment of inquiry. To lead in a learning-focused culture requires a little bit of personal care. In the article “Addressing Educator Wellness: The Difference Between Surviving and Thriving,” Diane Wynne looks at ways school leaders can give themselves a little grace. As you will see, this issue has a little something for every reader. 7

Building Equitable Learning Experiences through the Formative Assessment and Feedback Process Angela Di Michele Lalor

Have you ever passed the same construction site and noticed its progress? For months, I ran past an empty lot and then, one day, it was busy with activity. Week by week, I watched as a structure slowly took shape. I noticed the Angela Di Michele Lalor is a national educational consultant who has facilitated schoolwide professional development initiatives for over 20 years. She is the author of Making Curriculum Matter: How to Build SEL, Equity and Other Valued Priorities into Daily Instruction and Ensuring High Quality Curriculum: How to Design, Revise or Adopt Curriculum Aligned to Student Success. You can learn more about Angela here.

variety of trucks parked in the driveway as different workers completed their specific tasks. While their work seemed separate, together, they created a house. Eventually, plantings appeared, then paving stones and other signage, reflecting the family that now lives there. As a homeowner myself, I know that workers will return to make changes and repairs to strengthen the structure and address the owner’s new needs as they arise. When they do, the contractors may use new materials and techniques or use existing ones in new ways. It is all part of the building process. A process educators need to keep in mind as they work towards building equity for their students. Equity is addressing individualized attributes of students so they can engage in learning and eliminating those practices that prevent them from reaching their full potential (Lalor, 2021). Accomplishing this requires a multidimensional approach. On the construction site, workers with different areas of expertise came together to create a structure to serve the owner and the intended use of the building. In a school that attends to equity, educators, parents, community and board members come together to ensure that 8

students learn in a welcoming and affirming

• learning strategies that consider the

environment, where they have access to high

individuality of each student.

expectations and rigorous instruction, and an

In this article, I explain how schools can

inclusive curriculum and assessment system

leverage the formative assessment process

(NYSED, 2017).

When teachers use the formative assessment process, they see what students can do and the talents they bring to the classroom, and as a result, shift their thinking. In my work helping schools design

as one means of building equitable learning

inclusive curriculum and assessment

experiences for students.

systems, I found that formative assessment

All students have access to high-

is an essential and powerful assessment


practice that attends to equity. A formative assessment is a product or demonstration of

Effective formative assessment is built

learning that can be used to check for student

on the collective belief that students of all

understanding (Fisher & Frey, 2007). The

races, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes,

formative assessment process is one where the

genders, abilities, and languages can and will

information is used by the teacher to provide

learn. For this to occur, teachers must take

students with feedback and adjust instruction.

the necessary step of examining their own

The process also ensures students are involved

identities and experiences to be aware of how

and invested in understanding where they are

they impact their beliefs about their students.

in their learning and what steps they need to

While engaging in this process, teachers

take to reach their goals. When teachers and

may begin to recognize when they lower or

students engage in the formative assessment

modify expectations for students because

process, they address principles of equity in

of assumptions or biases. They can then

schools by providing:

work toward changing practices that prevent students from reaching their full potential.

• a structure that teachers can use so all

When teachers use the formative assessment

students can access high expectations;

process, they see what students can do and the talents they bring to the classroom, and as a

• students with opportunities to become

result, shift their thinking.

self-regulated, independent learners; 9

The learning target with success criteria

The first step of the formative assessment process is ensuring there is a clearly identified

provide students with a cognitive tool that

learning target for the day and students

they can transfer to new texts or activities

understand what it means and how to use

when they need to analyze multiple accounts

it. It’s essential that this learning target be

of the same event. Students are the owners

about learning, not the activity students are

of their learning, rather than relying on the

doing. As an example, a learning target such

teacher to identify and share the tool they

as, I can analyze multiple accounts of the same

need to learn.

event, focuses on the skill students will learn

Feedback supports self-regulated,

but a target such as, I can complete a graphic

independent learners.

organizer, focuses on the activity students will do. The teacher may have designed the

For students to grow as learners, they

organizer to identify key elements for analyzing

need to answer the questions: what do I need

accounts of the same event, but student

to learn, how well have I learned it and what

attention has been drawn away from this

do I need to do next? (Frey, Hattie & Fisher,

important information to focus on completing

2016). Feedback that includes strengths,

the organizer. The graphic organizer serves

questions/needs, and next steps, that are

as the formative assessment opportunity that

based on clear learning targets and success

can be used for engaging in the formative

criteria, help students answer these questions.

assessment process. When a target focuses on the learning and contains success criteria,

The chart on the following page

students can more fully engage in the formative

illustrates feedback that a teacher provided

assessment process. Here is the same learning

to a student based on the previously shared

target with success criteria:

learning target and success criteria. In this example, the teacher’s feedback describes

I can analyze multiple accounts of the

the student’s strengths and needs. It then

same event by:

offers specific actions the student can

• identifying the perspective of each

take to address those needs. These three


components are essential to the formative assessment process because they support

• determining important similarities

students as they work towards high

and differences

expectations and help students develop selfregulation strategies.

• examining reasons for their differences 10

Strength-Based Feedback Chart, Lalor 2022

Students should be part of the feedback

for self-assessment help students to become

process through peer feedback and self-

independent, self-regulated learners able to

assessment. Students are best equipped to

set and achieve high expectations.

participate in peer feedback when they are provided with a learning target that includes

Learning strategies consider the

success criteria and a protocol or structure for

individuality of each student.

giving feedback. “Strengths, questions, next

Describing student strengths validates

steps” shared in this piece, “glows and grows”,

and affirms the learner. It reinforces the

and “two stars and a wish” are all simple ways

skills or strategies students use so they are

students of all ages can engage in the process.

more likely to duplicate them in future

As students provide feedback to their peers, they are better able to recognize strengths,

learning experiences. Even in those cases

needs, and next steps in their own work when

where students have not fully demonstrated

they engage in self-assessment. Opportunities

the learning target, strengths are written 11

in terms of what students can do so they

background. They incorporate best practices

can be leveraged to progress along the

that support English Language Learners.

continuum of learning. In this way, the

The formative assessment process is

student and teacher recognize individual

only one of the many ways to create an

strengths which communicate students can

inclusive curriculum and assessment that

meet high expectations.

builds equitable learning experiences.

Needs, which can also be written as

When appropriately leveraged, formative

questions, identify where students should

assessments can be used so all students

focus their attention in the next phase of

have access to high expectations in a way

learning. They are accompanied by specific,

that honors students’ individuality and

actionable next steps so students can address

allows students to become independent,

these areas as they continue to work toward

self-regulated learners, all key principles to

the learning target. Identifying next steps

building equity.

fosters the development of self-regulation and independence. In providing feedback, next steps must be cognizant of student individuality. Teachers need to consider what strategies would be most beneficial to the student based on the student’s learning needs but also leveraging


students’ assets, interests, and learning preferences. In the feedback above, the

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2007) Check for

teacher provides next steps that

Understanding. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

• makes connections to what the student

Frey, N., Hattie, J. & Fisher, D. (2016). Developing

already knows

Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K – 12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill.

• uses layered texts

Newbury Park, CA: Corwin.

• suggests talking before writing

Lalor, A. (2021). Making curriculum

These next steps are particular to this

matter: How to build SEL, equity and

student and, as explained in the chart on the

other priorities into daily instruction.

following page, based on the student’s linguistic

Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 12

Feedback with Next Steps Chart, Lalor 2022

NYSED. (2018). Culturally ResponsiveSustaining Education Framework. Retrieved from Framework | New York State Education Department (

Lesaux, N. & Galloway, E. (2018). “Hallmark 1 of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Engaging, Content-Rich Texts.” Linguistically Diverse Learners and the NYS Next Generation P – 12 Learning Standards. Brief 3 0f 8. NYSED Lesaux, N. & Galloway, E. (2018). “Hallmark of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Classroom Instruction.” Linguistically Diverse Learners and the NYS Next Generation P – 12 Learning Standards. Brief 4 of 8. NYSED 13

The DNA of Learning Part I: When Horses Come to Water.... What Then? Robert K. Greenleaf, Elaine M. Millen, and LaVonna Roth

Denny: Two minutes after the class settles in, the door opens. As soon as he enters the classroom, Denny has an attitude. You can feel the perfect storm brewing. He is armed with a wealth of personal tools, often used to derail whatever is supposed to be happening. Chronically interfering with the Robert K. Greenleaf, M. Ed., has 45 years of experience in education from superintendent to playground supervisor. He was a former professional development specialist at Brown University and an adjunct professor at Thomas College SNHU and USNII-GSC. As President of Greenleaf Learning Bob specializes in strategies for understanding behaviors, learning and cognition. He holds a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University and is the author of eight instructional books.

class lesson is his mantra. As the need for attention escalates, Denny annoys other students by invading their workspaces and tortures their thinking. Keeping to oneself requires full effort. He wanders aimlessly about the room, sharpening a purposefully broken pencil out of boredom, as he disrupts the learning culture. Aggressions include verbal assaults. Denny’s trips to the bathroom provide a brief sigh of relief by the teacher for a few distraction-free minutes! He is not focused, nor engaged, nor drinking the Kool-aid of the school mission. He’d rather negative attention than address schoolwork he has neither the skills nor the perseverance to accomplish. He lacks confidence and hope. Sade: Sade enters her English class reluctantly, knowing there’s little to feel good about. There is no joy in coming to school. Attempts to do the assigned work are seldom completed without a hovering adult. Sade’s the poster child for “hand-over-hand” assistance, profuse with “I can’t” and “I don’t know how.” Sade’s quiet and masterful at ducking so as not to be noticed. When prompted about her work, she seeks direction continuously from the paraprofessional. She 14

lacks confidence and has little interest in the text, so resorts to fidgeting with something in the desk. Every day, Sade patiently waits for someone to tell her what to do next. Even when she plods along and appears momentarily successful, Sade seldom understands sufficiently. A completion-oriented focus to work takes place to get through the day. Withdrawn, few friends, and seldom smiling, there’s not much that strikes Sade as worth an earnest effort. Sweet kid, but... nothing seems to keep her attention. Cortina: Cortina enters class the same way she walks the hallways; orderly, alone, without notice. She quietly sits, waiting for instruction and lecture to begin. When asked, calm and passive compliance follows. Doing as told, she plays school very well. Cortina completes her assignments and does a good job, getting the expected ‘A.’ Her work is usually good quality and [she] likes to work alone… it’s easier that way! Cortina’s posture pleads “please do not draw attention to me— just tell me what to do.” She identifies no reason to be in this class—or at school other than to get a good grade. There’s no sense of belonging. On a particularly bad day she looks down, away, or folds her arms with a brief expression that silently wonders, “why are we doing this?” The day is long, boring and without personal or social inclusion. Because she does as expected, Cortina doesn’t believe anyone even notices her. As a result, she distances herself emotionally and invests in precious few friends. She is a master at accommodating the system and staying below the radar. It’s safer that way. The metaphor We all know the metaphor, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Perhaps we see the analogy referenced at times to students suggesting “You can teach them, but you can’t make them learn it.” We’ve all encountered 15

Elaine M. Millen, M.Ed., C.A.G.S., has over 50 years of experience in education as a teacher, principal, director of special education, curriculum director and assistant superintendent of schools. She has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in both public and private institutions. As an educational consultant and instructional coach, she has worked with hundreds of school leaders across the country and has written several articles on transforming professional learning opportunities for teachers, students and leaders.

those that perennially generate consternation and frustration for peers and adults at school. When working with Denny, Sade and Cortina the origin of their disenfranchisement may not be transparent. The reality is they see no clear

LaVonna Roth, M.A.T., M.S.Ed. is an engaging and interactive keynote speaker, consultant, educator, and mom. LaVonna bridges her passion for how the brain learns with identifying how every individual S.H.I.N.E.s with their mindset and socialemotional well-being. She supports schools in harnessing the S.H.I.N.E. framework, increasing psychological safety, & building the foundation based on the brain sciences. LaVonna has 3 degrees, is the author of 8 books, and has worked with organizations in the U.S./Canada and nationally.

What if we prioritized hydrating a desire for learning (creating thirst) over drinking a scripted curriculum that has no taste for both learners and teachers alike? purpose to the learning. They have not learned the essential problem-solving skills to be successful in school. They see no relevance or interest in school and in fact, have few, if any connections at school that they see as purposeful in their lives. Bottom line: They are not thirsty. We can—and do lead them to curricular tasks. They just don’t drink. So, we can lead a horse to water… and if it doesn’t drink, the prevailing current suggests there’s something amiss with the horse. Right?! After all, it was given multiple opportunities to take that drink! The logic in this is both clear and prevalent. What if we prioritized hydrating a desire for learning (creating thirst) over drinking a scripted curriculum that has no taste for both learners and teachers alike? Touching down in 2022 Too many educators and their students are suffering from a lack of purpose and meaning in their work. Shall we continue to suffer and be marginalized in the situational soup or do we give thought to why our students lack a thirst for learning? Perhaps what the pandemic has demonstrated over the past year is the urgency to connect what we teach to what 16

students see as having value for their future

timeless learning. It starts with knowing

goals and aspirations. Typical, traditional

learners well—knowing their interests,

maneuvering will not fix an issue if we’re

personal beliefs, values, hopes, and dreams.

focusing on the wrong problem! What if it’s

Following the in-depth understanding of

not about the program, books, facility or

each student comes the requisites for learning

new-fangled, instructional strategies? Clearly

how to navigate the many uncertainties

our new buildings, technology, materials and

we encounter along the way; learning how

programs would have fixed the problem by

to relate to others; relating to content and

now if they were the cause. Our repetitive return to rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic is exhausting for all; yielding little return. The origin of our ongoing challenges does not begin with pointing fingers or faulting students, but rather asking, “Why are they not thirsty for learning?” Then, perhaps we can focus on what may unearth decades of misaligned, albeit good intent. The DNA of Learning Blueprint (shown at right) depicts the fundamental components that provide insight into the origins of our perennial challenges.

concepts through meaning and interest;

Unpacking the blueprint

followed by awareness and applying known practices of cognition that lead to memory

The blueprint encompasses essential

and recall. Once students are well known and

components to guide learners through to 17

requisites are met, the “wings” of engagement

before them? No meaning, relevance, or

and neuro-moves can now have the impact

passion for learning comes to the forefront.

we desire from our instructional practices.

What’s missing is not instructional prowess

These are listed as the blueprint and will be

and accompaniments to the classroom. What’s

elaborated upon later in the series. Bundling

missing is in the requisites—that which comes

competencies and skills provide a means

before instruction, before curriculum, before

of making the abundant curricula more

testing and books and programs, and all the

Until their fundamental need to be known, understood, and connected are met, thirst will evade them. accessible and doable in the course of the

well-intended provisions. If Denny, Sade, and

calendar year. As the DNA of Learning moves

Cortina do not first connect well with others,

toward the final goal of “timeless” learning, we

especially the adults in school, little learning

assess progress with analogies, performance

evolves. Let’s say that again. Little. Learning.

competencies and demonstrations of the

Evolves. They must first become adept at

transfer of learning to new arenas. In the

navigating the uncertainties they encounter

end, all learning must lead to new frontiers of

and be involved in effective strategies for

exploration and discovery for the student. All

cognition before becoming thirsty for

learning must involve students in the learning

learning. Until their fundamental need to be

process. All learning must be about learning,

known, understood, and connected are met,

beyond the “I taught it” mode.

thirst will evade them. Different kids for sure, but with one common denominator—they are

Using the blueprint

disenfranchised from the provisions before them. The DNA of Learning Blueprint is

We lead our students to the “learning watering hole” but all are not partaking of

clear. Everything starts with the student being

the program offered. Let’s walk through the

well known. This relationship must be vetted

blueprint and locate where the disconnect

through the requisites of relating, cognition,

may be occurring for each of them. Though

and navigating uncertainties prior to believing

their behavioral choices differ, few have a

that there will be thirst. It should be clear that

clear sense of purpose for personal investment

if the first two items were fully in place the

in the offerings of this place called school.

wave of disenfranchisement witnessed by so

Why aren’t they thirsty for the good things

many of our students could be influenced in 18

sustainably positive ways. When an issue arises,

of learning within our educational system. In

look to these two aspects of the Blueprint

respective order, some questions might be:

FIRST. 95% of the time, the path forward

1. How might we get to know each

will originate within the requisites and/or

student well enough (beyond

knowing any given student more fully. Without

current notions of what this means)

identifying that source, we’ll experience

to understand the personal interests,

Groundhog Day over and over again. Let’s

aspirations and concerns that drive

pause and identify where and why the issue is

their choices?

present before purchasing more programs and entertaining yet another initiative.

2. What relationships will cause engagement in learning regardless of

Getting Started

the content?

Simple, not easy. What is required is

3. What strategies might we learn,

to simply identify the gold standards for

teach and use together to navigate

learning—what is tried and true for years and

the challenges and uncertainties we

supported by the learning sciences:


1. Navigate uncertainties with rigor

4. Is there a known learning science

and focus

& cognition literature that provides

2. Keep an eye on the purpose as

for consistent impact on sustained

well as each student’s personalized

learning outcomes?


5. How do we implement, monitor,

3. Understand how ideas and people

assess progress and stay the course

relate within their context—how

for at least five years—stemming

they connect and find meaning.

the tide of initiatives that have been historically impotent?

Astute folks have reminded us of this for decades while we systematically replaced

Coming full cycle

gold standards with flashy new fads and

We have seen over time that we can

short-term band-aids. It’s time to rethink our outdated teacher development efforts toward

lead them all to water and many will only

intellectual conversations that delve deeply

consume what is required out of compliance

into questions that get at the root of the DNA

motivated by reward tactics or grades. We can 19

lament how “kids” are not the same as they used to be—or some other blame-frame for why learning has not taken place—and the downward cycle will continue. The virus has illuminated the issue, not created it. Why are so many learners no longer thirsty for what

is being offered? Address this question with forthright, honest reflection. The outcomes may be the best guidance we’ve had all along. We will not increase student success without the realization that learning STARTS with developing a thirst.



New York ASCD’s e-newsletter has become a valued source of information on national education issues with a New York focus. Topics like observation, evaluation, student achievement, standardized testing, educating the whole child, special education, and communication, STEM, CTE, new graduation requirements, etc. are of interest to everyone and much is written about all of it nationally. Subscribing to our e-newsletter guarantees you monthly insight! Not only is it a place to gain information, we invite all subscribers to submit articles reflecting their thinking and experiences for consideration. The year ahead should be a dynamic one in our state with changes in evaluation again and a new commissioner, to name only two. Subscribe today to keep abreast of what is happening and what people are thinking about!


Addressing Educator Wellness: The Difference Between Surviving and Thriving Diane Wynne

The mental health and wellness of students has long been a concern of educators and educational leaders who recognize that student mental health is crucial to learning and the overall social-emotional development of essential skills. However, these past few years have also made it clear that the Diane Wynne, Ed.D. is the director of wellness and equity at Rush-Henrietta CSD. She is also currently a leadership coach and mentor, who served as an Assistant Principal and School Psychologist. Diane is a national presenter and is passionate about developing and facilitating workshops on trauma-informed systems, social-emotional learning, restorative practices, equity and inclusion, and wellness. She can be reached at

mental health of our educators who work with students has been tested in countless ways and also needs to be addressed. Educational systems are at a crucial tipping point with teachers and other educational professionals leaving the profession at alarming rates. In a SAANYS Vanguard magazine article, I discussed the impact of COVID-19 on educational leaders and offered suggestions for ensuring our mental health as school and district leaders; I would like to shift my focus for this article on ways to support teachers and other school and district staff. The importance of trauma-informed practices, which focus on understanding the impact of trauma on individuals, cannot be overstated. However, I suggest that we shift our focus to being trauma-responsive, which takes our understanding of the impacts of trauma and translates that into specific actions that address the aftermath of trauma and its continuing ramifications. Conveying both our understanding and compassion for others through providing specific supports is essential within our school districts, especially during these challenging times. 21

don’t know what will best help our staff if

Too often, the wellness of teachers and other school district staff goes overlooked,

we don’t ask them directly, I have developed

not because leaders don’t care, but because

and administered mental health surveys

they are unsure how to best support the range

every summer in my school district since

of staff members working in their schools

the pandemic began. These surveys are sent

and departments. Students suffer when the

to junior high and high school students, parents, and staff members. In our staff

adults who teach them and work with them

As leaders, we must remember to never underestimate the power of eliciting staff feedback, expressing care, and reminding ourselves that unprecedented times call for new and innovative wellness supports for those who have remained committed to serving our children in the face of major obstacles and stressors. are struggling to maintain their own mental

surveys, we directly ask staff what options

health in the face of anxiety and stress during

they would like our district to consider in

tumultuous times. For educational leaders

order to provide support to them. A range

facing the challenge of determining how to

of options such as virtual exercise classes,

best support staff mental health and wellness,

mindfulness sessions, and community-

I offer the following suggestions of ways

building circles are offered. Staff input helps to drive our decisions about ways in which

in which I have worked with my district

we can address wellness that will best support

to address this challenge as the Director of Wellness and Equity:

others. Results of these surveys led to virtual

Think “outside the box” when offering

staff participating. This school year, we have

supports for staff

offered staff chair massages at all of our ten

mindfulness classes offered with over 300

schools, in addition to our other buildings

While providing staff breakfasts or treats

including our administration building and

in staff mailboxes is always a nice gesture,

our transportation building, among others.

it doesn’t get at the complexity of what our educators have been through these past

The response we received from staff was overwhelmingly positive. As a district, we

few years. With the understanding that we 22

believe that although we know that a short

decision-making, all areas which have been

chair massage is not going to solve every

deeply impacted by the stress and collective

challenge that our staff are dealing with, we

trauma of COVID-19 and other challenging

want them to know we heard what they asked

local and world events in recent years.

for, we care about them, and we want to

Thinking about ways to engage staff in

offer a chance for them to experience a new

self-reflection about their personal strengths

relaxation technique that they may not have

and needs in the area of social-emotional

tried before. As leaders, we must remember

learning is paramount to their ability to

to never underestimate the power of eliciting

address these skills in their students. In our

staff feedback, expressing care, and reminding

district, we have identified SEL coaches in all

ourselves that unprecedented times call for

of our district schools this year to lead the

new and innovative wellness supports for

work of ensuring district-wide, consistent

those who have remained committed to

SEL implementation and to support both

serving our children in the face of major

students and staff. Creating these new SEL

obstacles and stressors.

coaching positions has been effective in providing leadership roles for individuals who

Make sure you are role modeling and supporting healthy mental health practices and social-emotional learning competencies for staff and students Social-emotional learning (SEL) has become a major focus of school districts, with the expectation that teachers will be supporting the development of SEL competencies in students. I often read about how to develop students’ social-emotional learning, with no recommendations offered about fostering these skills in our staff. CASEL’s five competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible 23

...our district has provided extensive professional development workshops on the topics of traumaresponsive strategies, de-escalation techniques, shifting mindsets about student behaviors, and making connections with students. have strengths in this area to be creative in

topics for additional departments and groups

their approach to fostering social-emotional

including transportation, food service, and

learning in their schools. It has also made


it clear to our community that we prioritize

As leaders, we must remember that many

the development of healthy social-emotional skills in both children and adults.

other adults interact with our students on

Focus on enhancing staff capacity to support

and these groups also deserve the same

student emotional and behavioral needs

supports and workshops to enhance their

a daily basis other than classroom teachers,

skills that are offered to our educators. Our

Our district mental health surveys made

annual wellness workshop, which offered

it evident that our teachers and additional

specific strategies on trauma-responsive

staff members felt anxiety about meeting the

approaches for children and teenagers, was

increased emotional and behavioral needs

open to all staff, parents, and community

of students. As a result, our district has

members and provided an additional source

provided extensive professional development

of support and vital information for those

workshops on the topics of trauma-responsive

working with children.

strategies, de-escalation techniques, shifting mindsets about student behaviors, and

Look for ways to partner with community

making connections with students. These

agencies to provide additional support for

workshops have focused on the factors that

your staff.

we are able to control such as our mindsets

When we began to see the impacts of

about students, how we approach situations, and the words we choose to use in challenging

mental health struggles on our district staff,

situations. Because our approach to mental

we started to realize how many people needed

wellness includes all of our district staff, we

someone to talk to and were unable to obtain

have developed specific workshops on these

this support. As many agencies struggled 24

to keep up with the demand for therapy,

and enhance supports to reach a greater

individuals were being placed onto long

number of individuals.

waitlists. Wanting to remove barriers for our

Restorative practices are an essential

staff, we reached out to an agency that we are

component of healthy school districts,

already affiliated with and were able to secure

especially during these challenging times.

counseling spots to be allocated only for our district employees. This enabled district

School districts who have used restorative

staff to quickly access counseling through

practices to build connections and restore

virtual sessions. Often, these partnerships

relationships know what an excellent tool it is

already exist in school districts and thinking

for individual classrooms and for schools and

creatively helps us to see new ways to expand

districts overall. Community-building circles

Source: Rush-Henrietta CSD


facilitated by staff can provide safe spaces for students to process challenging topics. They are also useful for gauging where students are at with their own mental well being and assessing what supports may be most helpful. Having students identify their feelings on a chart or share their challenges and successes for dealing with stress provide both a

Encourage your staff and students not to compare stress with others or minimize their own feelings. None of us is immune to the stress we experience due to personal and professional challenges. However, I often hear teachers say that they don’t have a right to feel

When people don’t recognize their struggles, they are apt to not address them, which can lead to increased mental health challenges. Educational leaders need to encourage staff to recognize that COVID-19 is a “collective trauma” that has impacted everyone in one way or another. safe environment for them to share these personal thoughts and also provide important information for teachers.

depressed because “others have it worse” or “I can’t complain, I still have a job”. Although gratitude and maintaining perspective and empathy for others are extremely important

These community-building circles are also extremely valuable for adults to participate in as well. In my district, I had the fortunate experience of facilitating circles with bus drivers and bus monitors, which was a powerful experience. The time together helped individuals to learn about their similarities and work through differences

traits, it can sometimes lead to individuals downplaying what they are going through because the situations of others seem more difficult. When people don’t recognize their struggles, they are apt to not address them, which can lead to increased mental health challenges. Educational leaders need to encourage staff to recognize that COVID-19

in political viewpoints and stressful world events. We all left with a greater understanding of each other and a closer sense of community and belonging, which are essential for positive workplace wellness.

is a “collective trauma” that has impacted everyone in one way or another. As we often tell students, everyone has a right to their feelings; how we cope with our feelings for 26

our own wellness and the mental health and

able to choose the ones which will best meet

wellness of others is what matters most.

their needs during these challenging times. In

In my view, the most important thing to remember is that the old saying, ‘What we don’t know won’t hurt us” is far from the truth. Effectively addressing staff mental health and wellness requires developing ways to elicit input on the supports that will most help, ensuring funding to provide those supports, and frequently checking in with

addition, reminding ourselves as leaders that the impacts of trauma can last many years and that we will need to continue to support educators in creative ways is imperative. If there is a lesson to be learned from the extremely challenging past few years, it’s that the mental health of students can only be fostered when we first consider the mental

those who have the most important job of

health of the adults who teach them, feed

teaching our children. A range of supports

them, drive them to and from school, and

should be considered so that educators are

encourage them each and every day.


Partnerships Click each logo to learn more.

New York State Teacher Centers From the Lighthouse in Montauk to the Adirondack Mountains to Niagara Falls, the NYSTC Network is a vibrant collaborative public organization that provides professional learning opportunities for educators. With 125 Teacher Centers and 7 regional networks, the NYSTC Network meets the needs of our diverse student population living in an ever-changing global environment. SAANYS - the School Administrators Association of New York State SAANYS has a long history of supporting New York’s public school leaders and their communities. Their mission is to provide direction, service, and support to their membership in their efforts to improve the quality of education and leadership in New York State schools. ASCD Connect the dots to your child’s success with the ASCD Whole Child approach to education.

FACTS about NYSASCD VISION STATEMENT • Is a diverse organization with a strong, representative infrastructure and ties to other professional organizations • Anticipates and responds to needs and issues in a timely manner • Provides quality, personalized, accessible and affordable professional development services that support research-based programs and practices, particularly in high need areas • Recognizes a responsibility to identify and communicate the views of members • Promotes the renewal and recognition of educators • Supports the development of teachers and leaders, with an emphasis of those new to the profession

GOALS • NYSASCD will provide research-based quality programs and resources that meet the needs of members • NYSASCD will ensure that NY’s diverse community of learners is reflected in our programs, resources, membership and governance. Diversity will be reflected in the following ways: board members, association members and committees are diverse in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, region of the state, professional position, and years within the position, with the intention of building the capacity of the organizations • NYSASCD will influence educational policies, practices and resources in order to increase success for all learners • NYSASCD will create and utilize structures/tools which enable us to be flexible in our actions and responsive to the changing climate and environment within education

PURPOSES • To improve educational programs and supervisory practices at all levels and in all curricular fields throughout New York State • To help schools achieve balanced programs so that equal and quality educational opportunities are assured for all students • To identify and disseminate successful practices in instruction, curriculum development and supervision • To have a strong voice in the educational affairs of the state by working closely with the State Education Department and other educational groups across the state and nation.

MEMBER BENEFITS • IMPACT-New York State ASCD’s professional journal provides in depth background on state and local issues facing New York State Educators • ASCDevelopments-the newsletter, furnishes timely announcements on state and local events related to curriculum and instruction • Institutes-two or three day institutes that bring together national experts and state recognized presenters with practitioners to share ideas and promising educational practices • Regional Workshops-bring together recognized presenters with practitioners to share ideas and promising educational practices • Diverse Professional Network-enables members to share state-of-the-art resources, face challenges together and explore new ideas


NYSASCD Over 60 Years of Service to New York State Educators 1941-2022 NYSASCD has provided over 60 years of service under the capable leadership of the following Presidents:

Lance Hunnicut Fred Ambellan Ethel Huggard Lillian Wilcox Ernest Weinrich Amy Christ William Bristow Bernard Kinsella Grace Gates Joseph Leese Charles Shapp Gerald Cleveland Mark Atkinson Ward Satterlee Lilian Brooks John Owens Dorthy Foley Anthony Deuilio Tim Melchoir Arlene Soifer

Mildred Whittaker Lawrence Finkel David Manly George Jeffers George McInerney Thomas Schottman Helen Rice Albert Eichel Conrad Toepher, Jr. Peter Incalacaterra Albert Eichel Robert Brellis James Beane Thomas Curtis Marcia Knoll Don Harkness Nick Vitalo Florence Seldin Donna Moss Lynn Richbart 29

John Glynn Robert Plaia Robert Schneider John Cooper Diane Kilfoile Diane Cornell Marilyn Zaretsky John Gangemi Sandra Voigt Mary Ellen Freeley Jan Hammond Linda Quinn James Collins Lynn Macan Judy Morgan John Bell Judy Morgan Brian Kesel Timothy Eagen Ted Fulton

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.