21st Century School Social Worker
My name is Marjorie Colindres Metcalf. I have been a school social worker since 2012. As a school social worker, my goal is to share practical and effective strategies based on my own experiences.
There are key qualities and skills that a 21st century school social worker needs to develop. It is important to communicate effectively with all stakeholders by developing a relationship. Social media has made it more accessible to develop relationships and share resources within the community and globally. By being a risk taker it is also important to incorporate new methods and interventions that are being created in the growing world of education. Embracing change and having a strength-based perspective can allow a school social worker to flourish and assist their school and district. As a result, monthly posts will be shared regarding on the role, skills and tools that school social workers need to become a 21st educator.
Technology in Schools
As 21st century school social workers, it is fundamental to objectively quantify social emotional goals. Technology has made it accessible to easily progress monitor specific goals on students’ IEP’s.
The tool that I have used most often has been Google Forms. Teachers and parents can rate how their student is doing socially, emotionally, and behaviorally by completing the forms. By being able to gather data from various stakeholders, then it increases the reliability. Depending on the students’ goal I can progress monitor them after an individual/group session, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Additionally, this tool has allowed me to empower students to be in control of their progress. With older students (9 years old and above), I typically request them to rate themselves. At the end of every quarter or semester, I show students and parents specific percentages and other data related to their goals. By every annual review and/or three-year re-evaluation meeting, I always have accurate and sufficient data to determine if student needs to continue receiving social work support, and if yes, then what should be the new goals.
When making the transition from paper to Google Forms, it is always important to start in small increments. In 2014, when I first found out about Google Forms, I immediately saw the potential of this being a valuable tool. However, I made the transition slowly as I had to get used to it. The first year or two, I used it with a small group of students, until students, teachers, and I felt comfortable using it. As time progressed, I have used it with all of my students who are receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports.
ClassDojo is another innovative tool that has allowed teachers to decrease behavioral problems and increase expected behaviors within the classroom. Over the years, ClassDojo has evolved and it is a tool vastly used for students in grades K-8th. Students need to have an understanding of number sense to understand when points are being given or taken away. This new token economy system has allowed teachers to keep in touch with their students’ parents by posting pictures, sending messages directly and updates in the classroom. As a school social worker, I find this application useful because teachers can share their “classroom dojo” account with me.
ClassDojo can be a tool of assistance for students who are being referred for Tier 2 services. For instance, I can compare students who are being referred amongst their peers. I can also determine if there are patterns in their behavior (e.g., Is the student losing points at the beginning or the end of the day? Are points being lost due to not following directions or not being empathetic?). Additionally, the role of a school social worker is to ensure that students are applying the skills being taught; therefore, ClassDojo helps to determine if application of the skill is taking place within the classroom. Lastly, this tool can be helpful while creating a Functional Behavioral Assessment. As part of the writing process for a Functional Behavioral Assessment, the team needs to gather relevant data to determine the function of the behavior.
Behavior Snap is another tool that has made the process of writing a Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan more logical. This application allows an observer to come into a classroom and observe the student to objectively identify target areas. The student being observed can be compared to other classmates to determine the differences in behavior. The observations can last for approximately 30 minutes and provide pie charts of the quantitative data; also, if notes were taken during the observation, then that is included.
Applying the Information
Three years ago, while I was a school social worker at Roy Elementary School I used all of these innovative tools while I collaborated with the technology coach. I would like to share a success story. A student was referred for a short-term Social Academic Instructional Group. Before the student was referred to the group, teachers were asked to share their ClassDojo data. It was clear that the student had difficulties in the area of following directions and demonstrating expected social skills within the classroom. While being in the tier 2 group, it was then determined that the student needed more long-term supports and a brief Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Plan was created. The team gathered data utilizing Behavior Snap and there were various observers who made the observations at different times. The data was then reviewed at a Student Intervention Team meeting and it was determined that the student may qualify for Tier 3 supports.
Therefore, a domain was then scheduled and data was shared with parents. The student qualified for special education services as the behavioral and emotional needs had an impact on academics, behavior, and social-emotional well-being. Once he had an IEP, specific social and emotional goals were written and his teachers provided me with feedback while utilizing Google Forms to progress monitor, adapt, and review his classroom behavior.
Overall, technology has made it accessible for school social workers to share and use data in a meaningful manner. A Google Slide and Video (Progress Monitoring Goals) has been created for school social workers to review and apply the information. In the Google Slide, I share various Google Forms that I have created that can be copied and formatted to meet the needs of your student. The goals written are based on the ISBE and CASEL standards.
Through my own experiences, I have learned to use practical tools and strategies to help students meet their social and emotional goals at the Tier 3 level. The use of technology has allowed me to provide accurate information and gather appropriate data from various stakeholders.