Close-Knit Community and Relationships of Trust Foundational to Linden’s Highly Effective Student Support
On December 3rd, a small but engaged group of parents joined Beth, Janice and Nasrin at an online meeting to learn more about Linden’s Student Support Team and how they empower students to succeed academically while nurturing social/emotional needs and mental health.The team consists of Beth, Janice, Savannah, Deanna and Amy, however Beth was quick to point out that all faculty and staff are important partners in this work, as indeed are students and families.
Using a tree metaphor, Beth illustrated ways in which student support at Linden extends far beyond the traditional guidance counsellor model. Faculty and staff use a variety of formal and informal strategies to identify problems early and offer whatever short or long term help may be needed. Formal mechanisms include grade level meetings, development of IEPs, meeting with families, meetings or less formal check-ins with students, documenting student concerns to look for patterns, or occasionally recommending external support. Because teachers collaborate so closely, conversations and observations are often shared informally over lunch or coffee.
Beth cited Linden’s unique community as a powerful advantage in early identification of concerns. The smallness and closeness of the community enables purposeful relationships of trust to flourish quickly between teachers, between teachers and parents, between students and teachers, and between the students themselves. Trust is established early on, thus everyone feels safe to share concerns — their own, or about a peer. Smaller classes and cohorts make it easier to notice when a student is ‘not themself’.
Parents were especially interested in how the pandemic had impacted the work of the Student Support Team. “We learned that we have to continue prioritizing mental health. It’s much harder to succeed at rigorous academics if you are anxious,” said Beth, “We consult frequently with parents and students about this, and discuss it often as a faculty. Just this week at a staff meeting, a colleague reminded us of the importance of allowing for breaks between online Zoom classes.”
If you have questions about Student Support, please reach out to your daughter’s teacher, or email [email protected].
In the new year, we will offer parent online meetings every three weeks, providing an opportunity for parents to get to know different faculty at Linden. Please email [email protected] if you would like to suggest a topic.