I am a DCPS Educator: Faye Christian
Faye Christian has been a clinical social worker for DCPS since she graduated from the Catholic University of America in 1977. She currently works with 37 elementary-aged students attending Beers Elementary School and Moten Elementary School @ Wilkinson.
Social workers help children work through issues they face at school, at home, in the community and elsewhere that affect their ability to perform at their highest level in school. These services can include group or individual counseling, home visits, and social, emotional and behavior assessments.
Social workers in the schools also work with teachers to help them chart and analyze student behavior and determine the reason for the behavior. They develop behavior intervention plans that include strategies to help students maximize learning in the classroom.
We asked Ms. Christian about her work at DCPS.
What is your day-to-day like?
I enjoy working with children and servicing youngsters who have been identified as needing behavioral support. In that role, I provide counseling intervention. These interventions are delivered in the classroom or in the traditional pull out model, where the child is taken from the classroom to the counseling room, a therapeutic setting.
In the classroom, Beers and Moten are SAM schools. The SAM model embraces the ideology that counseling services can go beyond the traditional pull out model and that services can be delivered in the classroom, and more children can benefit from it.
Under the SAM model, I am able to address behavioral issues with general education students without referring them to special education. I provide group and individual intervention according to the child’s needs.
With the traditional pull out model, I bring students into the counseling room. The students talk with me in the context of feelings.
I have journals for the students that are used before or after the session. If the student is unable write, they draw pictures that depict the situation or the problem that they are experiencing.
I make students aware of all their IEP goals, which are highlighted for the school year. Students put those goals in their journals, and we reflect on them during each counseling session and in how they are doing in meeting the goal criteria.
My mantra is consistency, structure and empowerment.
Consistency in that I make sure I see students on a weekly basis, and if something comes up, I make every effort to make up any missed session. I do this even if students are absent because I want to have that consistency.
Structure in that my counseling domain is highly structured. I want my children to see they can express their emotions and can talk about it in a safe environment and in a calm manner.
Empowerment is giving students tools, techniques, strategies and skills to manage their behavior. The ultimate goal is that they independently put this knowledge into action when needed to self-calm and manage their behavior appropriately.
What should parents expect when they meet with you or when their child is receiving services from you?
I insist that parents understand the goals and why those goals were written. It is usual practice that parents have some involvement in writing those goals.
The most important factor for parents and children to know is the baseline – where we start so progress can be measured. Most of the progress is made in incremental stages. Sometimes it is difficult for parents and students to see progress when the mastery criteria have not been met. Baseline data widens the picture and can capture all the progress that has been made.
We look at how far students have come in meeting that main goal. Baseline data may have shown that a child was meeting the goal expectation only 40% of the time. Maybe the student is now meeting the goal 60% of the time, which shows progress even if it wasn’t the ultimate goal. The parent can see the progress, and so can the child with use of the baseline data.
Can you talk about a time when you have learned from a student or how a student has inspired you?
Every day I learn something from my students. The greatest lesson learned from my students is perseverance. My students continue to press on towards excellence in spite of the adversities that life has presented to them.
What is some advice you would give parents who are finding out for the first time that their child has a disability or delay?
There is help. There is help within the school and resources within the community. If the parents and the school work as a unit, then there will be change because students will know that we are a united front for their benefit.