Social and Emotional Health During eLearning
As The Woodstock Academy prepares for a school year unlike any other, the focus on students’ social and emotional health intensifies. The Academy has developed a plan for all teaching and instruction to be through live online sessions, with one day a week of optional, on-campus activities in small groups. The Academy has made several investments to support students socially and emotionally including additional student support staff, school-based mental health services, training for teachers, and increased opportunities for interaction in-person and virtually.
“We know that eLearning is not perfect,” said Christopher Sandford, head of school at The Woodstock Academy. “It gives us the ability to provide consistent curricular instruction and interaction, but we recognize that the social and emotional components come less naturally online than they do in the classroom. We are keenly aware of how crucial it is to be innovative and make concerted efforts to address our student’s social and emotional needs.”
The addition of the one day of on-campus activities and time for face-to-face support on Wednesdays will be a significant boost for students’ social and emotional health. Wednesdays will feature activities for learning and socializing but will also be a time for students to get additional support from teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, school-based mental health services, and more.
“We are placing even more emphasis on supporting the overall wellbeing of our students,” said Karin Hughes, dean of student affairs. “The Woodstock Academy’s motto, ‘Respice Futurum,’ roughly means ‘Look to the Future.’ While the future seems anything but certain given the current state of the world, one thing we do know is that students need ongoing social-emotional support now more than ever.”
The Woodstock Academy has hired an additional full-time member of the student support staff team and will continue to provide school-based mental health services, this year through Silver Linings Counseling. These services will be available in-person when possible and through telehealth when necessary.
Faculty and staff will also receive professional development throughout the year to assist in their focus on social-emotional learning.
Live class sessions that are slightly longer than what was offered in the spring will allow for more teacher-to-student and student-to-student interactions. Many afterschool activities will continue to be offered online throughout the week.
“As the school year takes shape, we continue to ask ourselves ‘What is best for students? What needs do our students have? How can we partner with families to meet those needs?’” said Sandford.
The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–12 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.