School Counselors Rely on Virtual Experience to Help Kids
When schools started utilizing distance learning, school counselors had no option but to try to help students virtually as well. Sandburg Middle School counselor Deb Dragseth says new methods for helping students includes virtual appointments and a virtual calming room. The transition hasn’t been easy.
“I find distance learning exhausting,” Dragseth said. “Staring at a screen to communicate with kids, families, my colleagues. The energy that you get from being around children, especially at the middle school level, that energy that they bring is what helps feed us and fuel us through the day. We’re missing that. We’re missing that a lot.”
Like many instructors, Dragseth quickly had to pivot and figure out this new way of learning.
“We really were tossed in pretty quickly and kind of had to think on our feet,” Dragseth said. “We’ve really had to adjust what we do and try to plan for the unknown which isn’t always easy.”
Dragseth and other Sandburg faculty now rely on many kinds of technology to do their job.
“We are finding ourselves communicating with kids in many different ways,” Dragseth said. “I used to be able to go to a classroom pick up a kid, call a teacher, pick up a kid to come down to my office. Now we’re using email, we’re using schoology messages, phone calls. “
Sandburg Middle School Has New Resource Website
Sandburg Middle School has created a resource website for kids and families. They can make a virtual appointment with counselors or support staff. They can find out about meal programs or other school-related issues.
“Our district has created some wellness groups so kids have access to people to ask questions, whether it’s for eighth graders transitioning to ninth grade, the class of 2020, kids graduating, or fifth graders going onto middle school.” said Dragseth.
The school even has a ‘virtual calming room,’ a website page that families can go to for calming tools and strategies.
“We know this is affecting so many families in some ways,” Dragseth said. “That’s their top priority and school comes in second. However we can support them in their basic needs is really our goal.”
So how are Sandburg students dealing with distance learning?
“I think it depends,” Dragseth said. “I think some kids are actually really rising to the occasion. Then there are a lot that it is really tough for. Kids are trying to find out how to manage a schedule at home. There is no bell to tell them when to go to social studies class.”
Dragseth says distance learning is challenging for some families. The combination of parents working from home while kids take classes on their laptop is unique. It’s a lot to juggle and is even more stressful if parents have lost their jobs too.
To see more stories about how COVID-19 is impacting our area, click here.