Traditional thinking of student safety neglects to address the true root cause of many problems. Poor behavior and sagging academic performance often stem from trauma or a lack of emotional wellbeing. Instead of responding to every crisis after it emerges, school leaders who think proactively about student safety, both physical and mental, are better suited to solve the underlying issues that cause disturbances, keeping their schools safer and healthier in the process.
To be sure, effective administrators must also respond swiftly when disruptive problems emerge. But by training faculty, staff, and students to recognize the early warning signs of emotional distress, school leaders can prevent the worst outcomes and encourage a culture of camaraderie and openness within their institutions.
One fast and easy way to make sure students’ emotional wellbeing is monitored is Educator Impact’s Pulse check-in, a simple app that students use for one minute every week, which asks them to rate their mental health and allows them to quietly request help.
The Limitations of Traditional Approaches
Education experts are increasingly touting the benefits of mental wellbeing as a vital component of student safety. Today, behavioral, mental, and social services are seen as necessary parts of safe and effective school systems.
Despite the guidance, however, many students’ emotional needs are underserved. This happens for various reasons, including the costs of implementing programs, concerns over student privacy, and the stigmas associated with mental healthcare. Low-cost, easy-to-implement, effective solutions are rare but vitally needed. Students undergoing mental anguish drop out at higher rates, have trouble processing new information, have fewer strong relationships, and cause more behavioral disruptions at school.
For schools, reacting to emotional wellbeing issues every twelve months is inadequate to prevent dropouts, poor academic performance, antisocial behaviors, and disruptions. When students have new teachers every year or their home circumstances change, making adjustments every 365 days simply does not do enough to prevent the problems that can stem from poor mental health.
How Schools Can Win
Schools should not give up, of course. Many systems have implemented mental health programs that have augmented school safety and boosted social and academic success.
For example, a four-month program was implemented at a Texas high school. The campus had relied on reactive and punitive measures to enforce good behavior. When students disrupted class, teachers responded by notifying campus police. It led to heightened student arousal and a culture of anxiety.
So, for ninety days, the school went through a three-pronged program consisting of campus-wide talks on relevant issues, weekly group work on emotional health skills, and one-on-one sessions with teachers.
After the program, the school tracked its progress. Teachers reported that they had a greater sense of efficacy in handling problems, greater awareness of the root causes of behavioral eruptions, and a greater sense of community. Fewer students misbehaved and grades went up.
While a four-month program is prohibitively expensive for many institutions, EI Pulse offers many of the same benefits of spotting areas that are not tracking well before they become problematic.
A Better Way
The Pulse app from Educator Impact is an easy and effective way for schools to keep a close watch on student safety without high costs and hassles.
It works because it collects data simply and regularly. Every week, students spend sixty seconds responding to questions about their mental wellbeing. Each student can rate their own emotional state and specifically request help if it’s needed.
In turn, the school gets a trove of information that can help staff and faculty respond to potential crises among individuals or groups.
The regularity and anonymous feel of the check-ins encourage honesty, which can be hard to come by in adolescents and older students. One of the benefits of using EI Pulse is that students don’t have to make an extra effort to telegraph their needs—they simply press a button as part of their weekly routine. No one sees them ask a teacher or counselor for a chance to talk, so any social stigma is avoided.
When students receive help, they get it from teachers or another member of the school staff they trust. This prevents the student from backsliding further and strengthens teacher-student relationships.
EI Pulse gives administrators who are serious about student safety a new option. The raw data that it collects helps schools analyze trends and stop emerging threats. It can also help track how students are dealing with outside-the-classroom issues, like student deaths, economic woes, or pandemics. When schools see stress levels spike among several students, they can step in with measures designed to encourage healthy expression and emotional responses.
In turn, these strategies strengthen the sense of community within schools, helping those with troubled home lives find a sense of belonging and encouraging better mental healthcare and practices.
Preventing the worst effects of emotional turmoil means giving students the best chance at success. Book a demo today to learn more about how EI Pulse check-ins can help your school become proactive.
Educator Impact is dedicated to helping students find easier ways to ask for help, giving teachers real-time insights on those students, and helping school leaders identify trends in school wellbeing and culture trends.