This week’s blog was contributed by Kathryn Stubleski, LMFT. Kathryn is a licensed marriage and family therapist and senior research assistant on the data collection team at PAR.
On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, school professionals’ burnout is at an all-time high, shedding light on a problem that has existed for some time. Even without the extenuating circumstance of a global pandemic, nearly half of K-12 teachers (46%) reported high daily stress during the school year, tying nurses as having the highest stress levels among all occupational groups surveyed. Three out of four former teachers said that work was “often” or “always” stressful in the most recent year in which they taught in a public school. Teachers are not alone. There was a critical shortage of school psychologists prior to the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education released data that the average school psychologist maintains a caseload of double the National Association of School Psychologists’ recommended amount, with many states reporting an even higher average. People in caregiving settings such as schools are at a higher risk for burnout than noncaregiving professions, and there is a necessity to focus on self-care to preserve personal and professional effectiveness.
What do we mean by self-care?
According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, there are six elements to self-care. These six elements influence our overall wellbeing, and it is helpful to be aware of which areas in your life might need more attention. Brainstorm ways to stay healthy in these categories: Physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, and professional.
PAR reached out to school professionals for feedback on summer self-care to manage stress. Here are some helpful things we learned:
“I don't think people realize how much emotional baggage comes with the position. I have had many a sleepless night worrying about my students, anticipating a new lesson or evaluation, or reliving a difficult interaction with the parent.”–Karisa Casey, reading and English teacher, 13 years of experience
“The emotions involved in teaching run deep and forever. There is always a child who you cannot get off your mind.” –Sandra Korn, resource teacher in the exceptional learners department, 12 years of experience
“I have a difficult time handling stress and getting enough sleep. I worry about certain kiddos’ home situations, learning difficulties, and behavior issues.” –Kelle Rowan, 27 years of experience
One way to manage emotional and psychological self-care is to increase the use of healthy self-talk. Our thoughts dictate our mood and behavior, and what we say to ourselves can fuel or tame negative emotions. In the examples above, teachers reflect on common worries that impact their sleep. To engage in healthier self-talk, recognize what you are telling yourself, acknowledge the emotions associated with it, and attempt to replace this thought with a more neutral or positive thought.
“I’m feeling conflicting emotions of anger and guilt related to work today. I provided progress reports to my student and their parents throughout the semester. Despite this, the student chose not to complete missing assignments and asked me for extra credit at the end of the semester. It would be unfair for me to provide an extra credit opportunity to just one student. My emotions are valid, but I did everything I could for this student while maintaining my personal ethics. Going forward, I will emphasize my personal policy with students and parents at the beginning of the year.”
Some people find it helpful to journal this process.
One of the most effective ways to buffer against stress and burnout is by having a solid support system including mentors, colleagues, and professional contacts. Nonwork support may take the form of family relationships, friendships, spiritual communities, pets, and mental health services.
When feeling run-down professionally, it can also be helpful to build up aspects of identity that are not related to work. Engaging in interests and hobbies, learning new skills, volunteering, and maintaining relationships within your community often can reduce symptoms of early burnout.
Increased emphasis on physical health
Summer break allows for increased ability to prioritize physical health. Now is the time to focus on basic needs: physical rest, maintaining a sleep schedule, getting exercise, and improved nutrition. There is a greater ability to control what and when you eat during time off from work. No more 20-minute lunch breaks!
“Physically, I think rest is really important. I try to keep the same sleep schedule for the most part and I'm still consistent with my workouts, but a lot of the times at the end of the school year, I'll get sick because my body is just run down.” –Karisa Casey
“I look forward to going to the bathroom when I want!” –Kelle Rowan
“During the school year, I struggle to take a lunch break. I always work through my lunch break— answering phone calls, returning emails, paperwork, etc. At the beginning of the year, I try to remind myself how good it feels to take 30 minutes of uninterrupted lunch. It is a hard balance between taking a lunch or working later after school. I have two children who I am eager to rush home and see.” –Sandra Korn
Incorporating a transition between professional life and personal life
The school professionals we spoke to acknowledge a ritual of closing out the school year and beginning their break:
“At the end of every school year I have cleaned my office, secured the test materials and files, and on my last day, or prior to, that is closure. Nothing goes into the summer that is work-related. Every school year begins with a clean slate. Having things in order and tied off is very helpful to me. Any lasting stress responses I might feel is given over to meditation. It works for me.” –Glenda Smith, school psychologist, 27 years of experience
“The most difficult aspect of self-care is creating that separation when the workday is over. It is sometimes difficult not to check-in electronically with the job. There has been an unwritten rule that we had to be even more accessible outside of our contract hours during the pandemic. It made it very difficult to rest. I separate myself from the technology associated with my job during my summer routine. I actually deleted my work email from my phone as well as many of the apps that I would normally use to communicate with students or colleagues.” – Karisa Casey
“I do my best not to think about any aspects of school for about 2 weeks after school is out.” –Kelle Rowan
Reflect and look forward
It may be helpful to reflect on the past year. Think about what went well and what could be improved. It may be beneficial to set one personal and one professional goal for the upcoming year.
“There usually comes a point in the summer where I start to get excited about forming new relationships with students as well as continuing established relationships with past students. Teachers do look forward to a new school year. Professionally, I try to reflect on the past school year and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what I would like to improve on.” –Karisa Casey
“I look at things that I would like to change from the previous school year. Maybe lessons that didn’t go well, behavior incentives that I would like to change, and the arrangement of the room. I also look at myself as a professional and find at least one way I can better myself.” –Kelle Rowan
Finally, we asked what advice you would give a novice:
“They need to remember that they will not get everything done! There is always going to be “stuff” to do. That is okay! Let it go! Also, if at all possible, leave schoolwork at school and don’t go in on the weekends.” –Kelle Rowan
“At the beginning of each school year, make a goal to incorporate something into each day or week that makes you feel good about yourself, whether it’s as small as taking your lunch break, meeting a friend for dinner, listening to a podcast on the commute, or working out a few times a week.” –Sandra Korn
“Ultimately, it's the life that you live outside of the profession that sustains you.” –Karisa Casey
Although NASP 2021 will not be in person this year, there are still so many opportunities to connect, learn more about your favorite PAR products and authors, and interact with PAR staff members. Join us during one of the following sessions:
LIVE session! Attendees will receive NASP CPD credit
Wednesday, February 24, 1:30–2:30 p.m.
Teleassessment With Children: Strategies for Success
Presented by Carrie A. Champ Morera, PsyD, NCSP, LP; Terri D. Sisson, EdS; and Dan Lee, BS
On-demand sessions! Attendees can claim CPD self-study credit
A Process Oriented Approach for Identifying and Remediating Reading Disabilities
Presented by Steven G. Feifer, DEd, and Jack A. Naglieri, PhD
The Neuropsychology of Written Language Disorders
Presented by Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the FAR, FAM, and FAW
Identifying Students with ADHD: Evidence-Based Assessment with the BRIEF2
Presented by Peter K. Isquith, PhD, coauthor of the BRIEF2
Tests and Scales: Evidence for Integrative Assessment of Executive Function
Helping Students Show What They Know: Enhancing Executive Functioning
Presented by Steven C. Guy, PhD, coauthor of the BRIEF2
State of Affairs: Trauma Assessment Practices in Children and Adolescents
Presented by Carrie A. Champ Morera, PsyD, NCSP, LP, PAR Project Director
Visit the booth!
Enjoy our industry-best Customer Support at our virtual booth. Make sure to stop by the virtual booth to download your coupon for 15% off all orders placed February 23 to March 9.
Register for NASP now! We can’t wait to “see” you online!
Last week, during the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Conference in Atlanta, PAR sponsored the Trainers of School Psychology (TSP) poster session. Of 37 submissions to the poster session, three were randomly chosen as winners.
PAR is proud to announce these three posters as winners of the TSP poster contest!
Best practices in enhancing suicidality assessment skills using simulated patients
Stefany Marcus, PsyD, and Alexa Beck, MS, Nova Southeastern University
An empirical study of the perceptions of program accreditation by university program coordinators
Alana Smith, Ashley Carlucci, Dr. Jim Deni, Dr. Elizabeth M. Power, St. Rose University
Teaching psychoeducational assessment: Putting evidence-based practice to work
Sandra Glover Gagnon, Hannah Walker, and Haley Black, Appalachian State University
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the participants!
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention will be held February 13 to 16 in Chicago and PAR will be there. If you’ll be attending NASP, we hope you’ll visit the PAR booth and say hello! You can view product samples and even meet some of your favorite authors!
Here’s the schedule of when the authors will be available at our booth.
1-2 p.m.: Peter Isquith, PhD, coauthor of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®, Second Edition (BRIEF®2)
2:30-3:30 p.m.: Sandra Chafouleas, PhD, coauthor of DBR Connect™
5:30-6:30 p.m.: Steven Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and
Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™)
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Steven Feifer, DEd
2-3 p.m.: Peter Isquith, PhD
We also hope you’ll also make time to attend these informative sessions being presented by our PAR authors.
MS039: DBR Connect: Using Technology to Enhance Screening and Progress Monitoring
Sandra Chafouleas, PhD
SS031: 20 Years of Evidence: Assessing Executive Function With the BRIEF
Peter Isquith, PhD
SS018: PSW Method for SLD Eligibility: Empirical Findings and Case Studies
Steven Feifer, DEd
MS083: The Neuropsychology of Emotional Disorders: A Framework for Effective Interventions
MS165: Advanced Evidence-Based Assessment of Executive Function With the BRIEF2
MS112: Using a Neuropsychological Approach to Identify and Remediate Reading Disorders
MS166: Tests and Scales: Evidence for Integrative Assessment of Executive Function
As always, PAR will be offering special discounts on any purchases made at the PAR booth during NASP. You’ll save 15% plus get free ground shipping on your order!
Hope to see you in Chicago!
The concept of direct behavior rating (DBR) began in the late 1960s with school psychologist Calvin Edlund. He posited a program whereby teachers first explained to students what acceptable behavior was and then rated them at the end of each lesson. Unlike rating scale assessments, which ask teachers and parents to recall a child’s behavior during a 30-day period or so, direct behavior rating relies on real-time observation.
DBR combines the strength of a rating scale and the benefit of direct observation. Using this system, teachers can not only identify specific behaviors in real time, but they can also rate those behaviors.
From this idea, DBR Connect was created. PAR recently spoke with DBR Connect coauthors Sandra M. Chafouleaus, PhD, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, PhD, to learn more about how this product can help students and teachers to succeed.
Q: Direct behavior rating has been around for quite some time. Historically, what changes have taken place to get us to where we are today?
Drs. Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman: Yes, direct behavior ratings were developed from daily behavior report cards, home–school notes, and other tools that educators and parents have used for decades as a way to communicate information about child behavior. We took that rich history of use and worked to standardize the instrumentation and procedures. This allowed for comprehensive evaluation of the psychometric evidence for use in screening and progress monitoring purposes. DBR Connect is the result of all of that research and development, overall supporting that DBR Connect can provide data that are reliable, valid, and sensitive to change.
Q: How does DBR tie into positive behavioral support and/or multitiered models of delivery of services?
Multitiered models of service delivery and positive behavioral support are founded in prevention—that is, early identification and remediation of difficulties. These frameworks require use of ongoing data to inform decisions about continuing, modifying, or terminating supports, and DBR Connect functions as an ideal prevention-oriented method for progress monitoring assessment.
Q: You have described DBR Connect as a hybrid tool. What do you mean by that?
DBR Connect offers strengths of both traditional rating scales and systematic direct observation. That is, like systematic direct observation, a predefined observation period is selected with repeated assessment to allow for comparison of data across assessment periods, required in progress monitoring. The instrumentation and procedures are highly efficient like rating scales because only a brief rating of the defined targets is needed to record data.
Q: You mention in your book that one of the roles of DBR is communication. Can you talk a bit about that?
Yes, DBR has a rich history in use for communication purposes, whether teacher–teacher, teacher–parent, teacher–student, or parent–student. It is easy to understand at all levels and provides a simple format for discussing behavior expectations.
Q: What guided your decision to focus on the three core behavioral competencies that you chose for DBR Connect?
Our research started with a broad review of the literature on school-based behavior expectations in schools—including consideration of indicators of student success and those areas most concerning to educators. We narrowed the literature to items that could be defined both in broad and narrow terms, and then conducted a series of research studies to identify those target behaviors that resulted in the strongest evidence for use. In the end, the core school-based behavioral competencies—that is, those behaviors that every student should display in order to fully access instruction and participate in the school environment—are academically engaged, disruptive, and respectful. That said, we also acknowledge that some situations may call for additional targets; thus, we maintain the flexibility by supporting use for any behavior of relevance to a particular context.
Q: Who is the target audience for DBR Connect?
Teachers are the primary users of DBR Connect, meaning they serve as the primary raters and producers of data summaries for decision making. However, all educators (e.g., administrators, school psychologists) can benefit from data reports to inform decision making, and there may be some situations in which other users may serve as appropriate raters (e.g., monitoring of behavior progress during counseling sessions). Remember, an important strength of a DBR data stream is the capacity to share with students and parents to communicate information about behavior.
For more information on DBR Connect or to take a tour, visit http://www.mydbrconnect.com/.