What Does a Family-Friendly Workplace Look Like?
The Metropolitan Council on Early Learning (Kansas City Missouri) describes simple, inexpensive ways that businesses can become more family friendly. These can easily be adapted for the school setting.
- Allow employees time to eat lunch at their children’s schools, or to participate in school-related activities with their children during the day.
- Offer flexible work options to help employees meet family responsibilities.
- Allow “floating holidays” for employees to take time off during holidays that are culturally important to them.
- Allow staff to take annual leave in hourly or half-day increments to attend activities at their child’s school.
- Implement a policy to stay in touch with employees who are on leave after having a child or adopting a child, or on an extended leave due to illness.
- Sponsor in-service sessions, brown bag lunches, etc. on topics of interest to employees. Do not assume what their needs and interests are — ask.
- Develop a support network for new parents or other employees who face common issues. Provide space for them to get together.
- Sponsor regular events for employees and their families.
Staff health and Wellness
A school is a workplace for teachers, food service workers, support staff and administrators. Continuing workforce development leads to optimal application of best practices in teaching and child development when the child is in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on the playground or the bus. This understanding translates into a school-wide method of operation that enhances student connection to school, class participation, and ultimately success.
School, Emotional and Mental Health
School staff, especially teachers, are significant in children’ lives. Research supports that when the teacher nurtures a sense of belonging in the classroom, students engage more readily, relate positively with peers and demonstrate good study habits. Likewise, parents of children who are welcomed and involved in the establishment of the classroom environment are more likely to attend parent teacher conferences, monitor study at home, and convey concerns about student progress. A caring classroom is encouraged by improving students’ ability to listen respectfully to others; providing opportunities to build self-confidence; putting respect and responsibility into everyday practice; encouraging parent involvement.
It is more difficult for school staff, especially teachers to meet these social and emotional needs of students when they feel isolated, frustrated, and unsupported in their workplace.
Some strategies for assisting staff include:
- Staff have opportunities to learn best practices for enhancing the academic success and positive behavior of students from one another through modeling and practice of effective teaching methods, regular coaching, and constructive feedback from colleagues. Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Support Services Related Links Social, Emotional and Mental Health
- Teachers have opportunities to participate as an active, responsible member of the professional community, engaging in a wide range of reflective practices pursuing opportunities to grow professionally, and establishing collegial relationships to enhance the teaching and learning process.
- Building administrators convey an openness to hearing concerns, frustrations, ideas, and suggestions of all school staff.
- Building administrators utilize techniques for team-building, developing leadership skills, and workplace morale.
- Staff receive employee assistance when it is needed.
Staff Support Services
Within the Ohio School Climate Guidelines, adopted by the State School Board in 2005, there is a guideline and benchmarks that pertain to High Quality Staff Development and Administrative Support. This guideline reflects the need for providing employee assistance in accordance with the district’s plan. Things to remember regarding keeping the workplace safe and supportive include:
- Building administrators espouse the philosophy that a healthy workforce leads to a healthier environment for all students.
- District policies and procedures for resolving conflicts, concerns, and grievances are clearly conveyed to all staff on an annual basis. District health and wellness benefits are clearly conveyed to staff on an annual basis.
- A procedure is in place for periodic performance reports for all staff.
- All staff are trained in conflict management and dispute resolution.
- New hires are given the district’s/building’s written policies.
Professional Development Opportunities
On-Line Learning via http://www.ebasedacademy.org
In 2005, the Ohio Department of Education in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Education created a FREE professional development on-line learning academy around safe and drug-free schools. The content of the academy has been significantly increased since 2005 to include courses on a variety of issues related to safe and supportive learning environments. Following are links to courses specifically on safe and supportive learning topics. We encourage you to review all the courses at http://www.ebasedacademy.org to see if the topics are relevant to your interests. Free RCHs, Counselor, Social Work CEUs are available for each course. For educators, the certificate of completion can be given to their local professional development boards for their continuing education requirements.
Look for safe and supportive courses in the following course categories.
- Building School-Family Partnerships
- Collaboration Between School and Community Counselors
- Planning for Family Partnership
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
- FASD: Classroom Strategies
- Introduction to FASD
- Understanding the Challenges of FASD
Healthy, Effective Employees
- Burnout Prevention
- Cultural and Linguistic Competence
- Economic Crisis and Stress 101
- Ethical Decision Making for Social Workers and Other Professionals
- Workplace Wellness
Healthy, Successful Children and Youth
- A School Professional’s Guide to Understanding Mental Illness in Chidren
- Adolescent Substance Abuse Screening & Assessment
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder
- Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders
- Childhood and Adolescent Depression
- Childhood Trauma and Healing
- Conceptual Frameworks for Positive Youth Development
- Current Trends in Issues in Childhood Obesity
- Current Trends in Underage Alcohol 101
- Evidence-Based Strategies for Reaching At Risk Youth
- Introduction Developmental Assets
- Nutrition and Academic Achievement
- Reaching Students
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Services
- Motivation and Stages of Change
- Motivational Interviewing
- Lots of other courses specific to alcohol and drug abuse treatment
Program Development and Evaluation
- Program Evaluation 101
Safe and Healthy School Environment
- After School Program
- Building a School Infrastructure for Learning Supports
- Conflict Resolution I, II, III
- Crisis Intervention
- Cyberbullying 201
- Managing Crisis
- National Incident Command System (NIMS) for School Safety Teams
- Ohio School Climate Guidelines 101
- Parent Engagement in School Climate Initiatives 101
- Positive Discipline Practices Used to Increase Respectful Behavior
- School Emergency Management
- School Safety
- Social and Emotional Learning 101
- Strategies for Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning
- Sustaining a School Climate Change Initiative