Making Professional Development More Personal

When it comes to professional development, lots of educators would rather spend an afternoon in the dentist’s chair than sit through a district training 카지노사이트 provided by a consultant who has never set foot in a classroom.

But today’s professional development, much of it led by NEA—or funded by NEA grants—is personalized, relevant, and offered by those who know educators’ challenges best: other educators. Here’s a roundup of some of NEA’s best affiliate work in professional development (PD).


On  November 17, 2014, Shannon Fuller received a call that would forever change her life. Her husband was being ordered to a psychiatric lockdown facility.

“I was totally blindsided,” she says.

That night Fuller’s husband, who suffers from mental illness, was put into a facility where he wouldn’t hurt himself or others. Three days later, he was suddenly released.

“It was like, ‘Here you go, you can have your husband now,’” she recalls. “But I had no idea what to do! It was the worst two weeks of my life trying to manage this crisis on my own. To this day, I don’t know how I got through it, but I was determined to find a way to prevent that from happening to anyone else ever again.”

Fuller, a paraeducator from Keene, N.H., and president of the Keene Paraprofessionals Association, found such a way while attending a professional development seminar on mental illness where she heard the heart-wrenching story of former New Hampshire Chief Justice John Broderick. 바카라사이트

One night while Broderick slept, his son Christian, 30 at the time, nearly beat him to death with a guitar. Christian had been struggling with undiagnosed mental illness for more than 20 years. The seminar was about the science of mental illness, how to bring it out of the shadows to remove the stigma surrounding those who suffer, and how to recognize the five warning signs of emotional stress. The signs, according to Broderick, are personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-esteem, and hopelessness. None of these things were talked about in Broderick’s family before the assault because of the stigma. Now Broderick hopes to end the stigma.

I was the parent and I didn’t see it. So he suffered for years,” Broderick told Manchester’s Union Leader. “Then we had that horrible tragedy and he went to prison…And I don’t know how he survived that.”

Broderick’s seminar was the inspiration Fuller needed. His story was her story. She knew it was also the story of countless students suffering in silence, and she wanted to join Broderick to raise awareness and end the stigma.

“I decided to apply for an NEA grant to bring mental health first aid to our members—to advocate for our children who cannot speak for themselves and for parents who don’t know what to do for their children who have mental health issues,” she says.

During the first year of the grant, 20 members received the training in Keene. Now the program has expanded to serve everyone in the district. It has even spread into neighboring districts. 온라인카지

Participants do not provide therapy or give diagnoses involving mental health. Instead, they learn to listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and information, encourage professional help and self-help, and assess for the risk of suicide. The curriculum primarily focuses on support strategies that participants can use to help adolescents from 12 to 18 years old. Fuller works in elementary schools and has found the lessons apply there, too.

“Our youngest kids also experience trauma that leads to anxiety and other mental health problems. Recognizing [concerns] at the earliest ages is the best way to help,” she says.

Irv Richardson is the coordinator of public education and school support at NEA-New Hampshire. To stay on top of the types of professional development topics educators want, Richardson asks about the topics they’re interested in and the challenges they face.

He says that over the last four to six years, “topics that deal with mental health and whole child issues are rising to the surface and educators are packing conference rooms and workshops.”

They want PD on everything from the effects of trauma and the opioid crisis on our students to ways they can address climate and equity in an era of hostility and intolerance. Perhaps as a coping strategy, educators also want PD on mindfulness and the care and feeding of the teacher.

The seminars and workshops that fill up most quickly, Richardson says, are those dealing with whole child and mental health issues. Kids are more anxious now than ever before, he says, and these days childhood is less a journey and more a race. It builds stress and can compound mental health problems.

Eating disorders, substance abuse, disruptive behavior, anxiety, and depression, which have been preying on students for decades, are finally receiving the attention they need. But there’s a new monster attacking the safety and security of students—the opiod epidemic.

“It’s hitting our students hard and they have trauma,” says Fuller. “They’re seeing their parents high or passing out. They’re seeing loved ones overdose, put in jail, or even die from their drug addiction. There’s trauma and anxiety and, if untreated, they can lead to more serious mental health issues.”

Now, Keene paraeducators all know the five signs of emotional stress. They know how untreated issues can lead to depression or even suicide. Most importantly, they know what to do.

“Educators have to be a frontline defense now,”  Fuller says. “Trauma, addiction, and toxic emotional stress is everywhere.”

By bringing the mental health PD to her colleagues, Fuller feels totally empowered to take mental health by the horns. “It’s not going to take over my life.”

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