Teacher working with smiling young students
Educators and Counselors
MA Professional Learning Communities for School-Based Mental Health

We offer virtual PLCs to improve school-based mental health in Massachusetts schools and districts.

EDC has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and other Massachusetts-based organizations to offer Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for grant-winning schools and districts across the Commonwealth.

About MA PLCs for School-Based Mental Health

EDC will be offering PLCs to educators throughout Massachusetts over the remainder of the school year on topics related to the integration of social emotional learning (SEL) and mental health into school practices and systems.

Each of these topics will consist of weekly 1-hour sessions, facilitated by subject-matter experts, with a primary focus on peer sharing and cross-district learning. While some relevant content will be presented, much of the time in each session will be devoted to discussion and other modes of information exchange, designed to provide participants with an opportunity to share their experiences, troubleshoot challenges, and ask questions.

These sessions are free and open to all Massachusetts-based school and district staff, including administrators, teachers, school counselors, and paraprofessionals.

The following sessions will take place May and June.

Offered PLCs

Trauma-Informed Practices (Wednesdays 1-2pm | May 1, May 8)

Trauma has detrimental impact on students’ physical, cognitive, social-emotional development, and in turn on their ability to learn and thrive in the classroom. Schools have the potential to support these students and address the impact of trauma through the implementation of a series of trauma-informed practices inside and outside of the classroom, including practices that promote a welcoming classroom environment, structure and routine, and meaningful relationships with trusted adults.

This PLC will provide a common foundational understanding of the impact of trauma on students’ health and learning as well as examples of trauma-informed classroom practices. Subsequently, we will facilitate conversations with participants that allow them to share: effective trauma-informed practices they have used in the classroom, what has worked and what has not, challenges for implementing such strategies, and possible solutions to address these challenges. Our facilitators will provide examples of effective practices, and curate the examples provided by participants to create a resources of practices that will be shared with all participants at the end of the session.

Register: Trauma- Informed Practices 

Promoting a Sense of Belonging through an Equity Lens (Thursdays 3-4pm | May 9, May 23)

Students are ready to learn and make healthy choices when they feel safe, supported, and welcomed in their classrooms and schools. Creating a sense of belonging is particularly important for students from historically marginalized populations—who are most likely to feel isolated and disconnected. Strategies to foster belonging for historically marginalized population have benefits for the entirety of the school community.

Through this PLC, teachers and school administrators will explore practices that increase sense of belonging, with an eye towards culturally responsive and anti-racist practices. These sessions will focus on classroom and systemic strategies to support belonging, and will drill down into identity and relationships as two aspects of belonging. 

Register: Promoting a Sense of Belonging through an Equity Lens

School-Based Substance Misuse Prevention Strategies: Planning and Implementation  (Mondays 11am-12pm | May 6, May 13)

This PLC will offer participants the opportunity to consider substance misuse prevention within the context of other school-based SEL and prevention strategies, and to learn about how these strategies and interventions can be successfully incorporated into a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS).

In the first session, we will focus on identifying data sources and interpreting findings in the context of national and local substance misuse trends, with a focus on shared risk and protective factors. Next, we will provide an overview of evidence-based universal (Tier 1) programs and practices, and participants will share their experiences with implementation (highlights, successes and challenges).

Finally, we will discuss Tier 2 and 3 supports related to substance misuse: referrals, interventions, and collaboration with community partners. We will end the session by asking participants to identify one or more action steps to bring back to their schools and districts. 

Register: School-Based Substance Misuse Prevention Strategies: Planning and Implementation

Integrating SEL into Climate Change Education (Tuesdays 3:30-4:30pm | May 14, May 28)

Communities across the world are quickly recognizing the impacts of climate change on the physical and mental health of humans, and schools are central to this conversation. Educators and school-based clinicians are reporting increased instances of climate anxiety within their student body, especially as these topics are addressed in social studies and science curricula. Incorporating SEL into climate change education offers a unique opportunity to help students cope with the complex emotions we feel when faced with information about our warming world and human’s role in it. Through building SEL competences, students can increase their resiliency and gain a better sense of agency over their ability to influence climate action.

This PLC will begin by exploring with participants their understanding of how climate anxiety and climate distress are showing up in their student bodies, as well as among school staff. Facilitators will present a brief summary of the small but growing body of research on prevalence of mental heath concerns related to the climate, as well as efforts underway to shift the way we talk about climate change in our nation’s schools. Over subsequent sessions, participants will learn about existing efforts underway to address climate anxiety, discuss opportunities to integrate SEL into climate change education, and together develop some first steps they can bring back to their schools and districts.

The ideal audience for this PLC is educators (specifically those addressing the topic of climate change in their classrooms), school mental health staff, SEL leads, and school/district leadership. 

Register: Integrating SEL into Climate Change Education

Parent Engagement Strategies (Tuesdays 9-10am | May 7, May 14)

This PLC will offer participants opportunities to explore and expand authentic and impactful methods for family engagement within a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS).

In our initial session, we will review the importance of family engagement and how it is expressed in our school communities. We will discuss your school’s expectations for parent/family involvement in the context of cultural and linguistic responsiveness, district policies for discipline and communication, and the role of (formal or informal) family liaisons as bridge-builders. Next, we will collectively exchange practices that work and thought-partner around those that need work. Lastly, we will collectively generate a parent engagement resource with strategies and tools that can be shared with our district and school communities.

Register: Parent Engagement Strategies

Sustaining your MTSS (Thursdays 9-10am | May 9, May 23, June 6)

This series will support participants to build upon and sustain their progress with MTSS implementation.  The sessions will focus on three elements of sustainability: programmatic: Reviewing and formalizing plans for training, coaching, and fully integrating your MTSS; communication: Maintaining communication with key stakeholders regarding the progress toward implementation and impact; and Financial: ensuring that funding streams for delivering your MTSS are established, adequate, and sustainable.

At the end of these sessions, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify ongoing supports for their MTSS work;
  2. Develop a plan for when to use specific tools for continuous improvement;
  3. Begin to identify which MTSS elements to continue, modify, or discontinue;
  4. Identify ongoing costs needed to support their MTSS;
  5. Identify audiences and messages for ongoing communication to support sustainability.

Register: Sustaining your MTSS

Strategies to Support Educator Wellbeing (Tuesdays 12-1pm | May 21, May 28, June 4)

Many educators across the Commonwealth are dealing with high levels of anxiety, stress, fear, and worry, and leaders are increasingly navigating issues of low teacher retention and recruitment. This PLC series is designed to create an exchange of effective practices to support educator wellbeing, resulting in higher retention, healthy outcomes for educators, and better role modeling of wellbeing practices for students.

The PLC is guided by a framework informed by the socio-ecological model, which stipulates that educator wellbeing requires promoting practices across three levels of care organized in concentric circles: self-care, relational care, and safe and supportive working environment. In the first session of the series, we will introduce this framework to participants, and share effective practices for each of these three concentric circles. We will then invite participants to share effective practices from their schools and districts, organized around these three levels of care. In addition, throughout the series, facilitators will engage participants in experiences and activities of self-care and relational care.

Our hope is that participants will walk away with new practices they can implement in their everyday life. At the end of the series, we will work with participants to develop an individualized, coordinated, and comprehensive approach for educator wellbeing that touches on all three levels of support for themselves as educators.

Register: Strategies to Support Educator Wellbeing

Learn More

Questions about MA Professional Learning Communities? Interested in bringing a Professional Learning Community to your school or district? Reach out to EDC Solutions.

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