CCSD93 Middle School Wellness Rooms
Educational research makes clear that supporting students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) needs is essential to academic achievement. Students who attend schools that embed research-based SEL practices into their educational delivery systems experience higher levels of engagement, increased school functioning and improved academic performance when compared to students who do not.
For these reasons, CCSD93 has continued to prioritize addressing students’ social and emotional needs. It’s reflected in our mission statement, as we seek to maximize the academic, social & emotional potential of each student; and we have made it a key performance indicator that we’ll measure and strive to improve upon within the Student Success strategic priority of our new Strategic Plan.
In the fall of 2023, CCSD93 introduced Wellness Rooms at its middle schools as a new facet of SEL. District behavior data indicates that a significant need among many students is the ability to self-regulate their emotions, and Wellness Rooms are calming spaces intentionally designed and operated to meet this very need. Entirely funded through a grant from Midwest PBIS Project EPIC, the rooms provide a space for students to visit during the school day when confronted by stressors. While there, they learn systems and skills to apply throughout their daily life that will better enable them to independently regulate their own emotions, respond to stress in healthier ways and increase their resiliency moving forward.
A student can access the Wellness Room either by making a request of, or receiving a referral from, their teacher. Once there, the student works with a school social worker on skills like identifying emotional triggers, appropriately communicating their wants and needs, implementing coping strategies, and reflecting. Visits are meant to be brief, about 10 minutes at most, in order to be least intrusive to the school day. Students who need more in-depth assistance continue to be supported through traditional meetings with school social workers or psychologists, as appropriate.
Wellness Room use is data-driven. Students complete a standard questionnaire upon entry and exit, and CCSD93 uses the resulting responses to further personalize strategies for students, measure the room’s effectiveness, and make adjustments as necessary. Protocols are in place to ensure that students use them as intended and not simply to avoid class.
Ultimately, these spaces are designed to better meet the social and emotional needs of our students. CCSD93’s Wellness Rooms join other SEL practices that our tremendous educators have systematically implemented to support our students, including PBIS, which sets and reinforces positive behavior expectations; Expect Respect, which guides students to identify and appropriately respond to bullying behavior; classroom circles, which build community and accountability; and restorative practices, which assist students to resolve conflict and repair harm.