Social emotional learning (SEL) is not a new concept, but the importance of monitoring student mental health has been magnified over the past year and a half. According to a 2021 study from Mental Health America, 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression as compared to 9.2% in last year’s dataset.
Keeping track of student well-being is not a short-term project. Trends across classes, schools and districts can show edifying data month-over-month and year-over-year. By surveying students daily or weekly on how they are feeling, teachers and administrators can provide data not only how their students are doing, but what might be causing fluctuations in their mood or performance.
Tracking student wellness as part of your SEL plan can reveal trends, such as times of the school year that students are feeling more anxious or upset. This enables educators to be prepared for times when students may need more structure, or may need to take more breaks.
"That first month of school is all about adjustment," says Janine Domingues, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute (ABC News). Students may experience anxiety and stress while getting acclimated to the classroom and a new routine, she said.
Checking in with students on a regular basis helps teachers and support staff identify struggles early, and address students’ problems before they escalate. Making students feel comfortable to talk about their mental health creates a learning environment that’s safe and leaves students free to focus on their academics.
One of the biggest barriers schools face when addressing SEL is how to get concrete data on where to intervene and make improvements. Schools need to know where their efforts will have the most impact. This is where tools like School Day help make the process smoother, and give schools and districts concrete data to act on.
Even though many schools are returning to traditional in-person classrooms this fall, there are still many struggles to overcome. Making sure your school is tracking student wellness on a continuing basis is just one of the many ways to make sure the upcoming school year is a success!