New Cultures of Thinking - Blog #3
Michigan Assoc of School Social Workers * www.masswmi.org
Remember when you were a student?
For some of you it was not too long ago, but for others of us it was in an age before email, cable TV and the internet. “Just Google it” was not an option. Years ago in class our teachers had us read from the textbook, write about what we learned, and led us in a discussion about the topic. At the end of the lesson, the teacher would always say, “Does anyone have any questions?” At that moment most of the students in class were hoping that no one raised their hands to ask a question. It was almost time for lunch, for recess, for getting the work done so we could play when we got home, for being done with the lesson. The questions asked were usually to clarify the concept or to have the directions repeated. The word question was often not looked upon favorably. Now, fast forward to a culture of thinking community where the word question is replaced by the word “wonder”. Do you have any wonders?
I was observing in a third grade classroom when I first heard the teacher ask, “Do you have any wonders about our lesson?” It was an “aha” moment for me. Just the word wonder opens up so many possibilities. It gives permission for the students to start thinking and brainstorming ideas. While the word question often supposes that we do not know something that we should already know, the word wonder encourages students to hypothesize, try out an idea, be brave, take risks, guess, try. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in an environment where our wonders were valued and encouraged to be said out loud? Cultures of thinking classrooms (and social work offices) do just that.
Who should submit a proposal?
You. Your colleagues. Your colleagues' colleagues. Any professional with a level of social work understanding who would like an opportunity to share his or her knowledge with school social workers from around the state of Michigan is a great candidate for this conference.
Meeting the Needs of Students in the School Setting in an Ongoing Public Health Crisis: Resolution Statement on the Flint Water Crisis
The following excerpt is from the latest MASSW resolution statement on the Flint Water Crisis. You may read the entire statement by clicking here.
he Michigan Association of School Social Workers shares the very serious and widespread concerns about the unprecedented public health crisis that has been unfolding in the city of Flint. State and federal assistance with the provision of water, water filters and plans for testing of blood and water samples are all critically important steps in addressing this crisis.
It is also incumbent upon us to remember the crucial need for resources for the Flint area schools to enable them to assist students and continue the important activities of teaching and learning in the midst of this ongoing state of emergency. An estimated 5400 school-aged students were drinking lead-tainted water in their schools and many more students were exposed to unsafe water at home. Hundreds of students in early childhood programs have been impacted as well.
These students, along with parents and staff, have been functioning in an ongoing atmosphere of stress and uncertainty regarding the potential impacts of lead poisoning and other health concerns related to the water supply. In addition to being exposed to lead, they have also been exposed to the large-scale presence of media, countless news reports and community demonstrations. Perhaps most importantly, they have been exposed to the fears, frustration, and anger of their parents and adult members of their community. Their sense of safety and security has been compromised. They are in need of hope and reassurance that they will be cared for and supported.
Unfortunately, the Flint Community Schools and other area districts have experienced ongoing budget cuts and reductions in staff that will challenge their ability to respond to this situation. Additionally, a frequent hallmark of trauma is avoidance, where adults may avoid talking with children about trauma out of a concern that doing so may cause additional anxiety or stress, creating another barrier to appropriate intervention. Failure to provide early intervention can lead to the development of anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, with long-term developmental, emotional and behavioral consequences. We must work to insure that the trauma that accompanies this crisis is not ignored.