Social workers are often tasked with supporting students who exhibit unsafe or disruptive behaviors in school. An informational “quick facts” sheet serves as a helpful tool for not just social workers, but staff throughout the school to help support students in crisis.
Key Elements for an Information Sheet
While you may have a lot of information about a particular students’ behavior, you will want to include only the most pertinent information on these sheets. The idea here is to present information in a quick, easily accessible way.
If you would like to use a template- you can find the one shown above at my Teachers Pay Teachers site.
Having an updated photo is extremely helpful when you have students who aren’t often where they are supposed to be. However, an updated photo is easier said than done. Especially in middle and high school, where kids are often dying their hair or changing their looks in some way, it can be difficult to have a photo that looks like the student.
It’s important to keep these information sheets updated. At the high school level, we had monthly meetings with the admin team and security. This is where we would provide any updates to the pertinent information provided on these face sheets.
At my middle school, I purchased a small photo printer that prints 2×3 photos. These pictures would be great with the information face sheet as they are easy to print from a phone, small enough and can be updated as needed.
While schools often have a space in their database for nicknames or preferred names, there is often a process for changing the name. Having the student’s preferred name handy in a crisis situation can help reduce any further negative emotions.
Using a students’ preferred name is also culturally responsive. If and when you are communicating with home, remember to be conscious of trans students who may not have parental support.
Potential Triggers and Coping Skills
Similarly to the trusted adult language, the coping skills section could be worded with specific curriculum. Our school uses Zones of Regulation. In our school, if a staff member comes across a student, they may be able to use Zones of Regulation language to help the student identify their emotion and regulate.
For example, if a student is non-verbal, in the coping skills section of their face sheet, it might be helpful for school staff to know how to recognize the student is regulating (but not quite ready to return to class).
It’s also helpful to know any potential triggers. I had a student I worked with last year who would become dysregulated anytime anyone (included her trusted adults) touched her. It was helpful for me and others who worked with her to know this ahead of time- it certainly saved us a lot of work!
With Whom to Share the Information Sheets
While typically “the more information, the better,” with students who are frequently in crisis, it’s important to distribute the most pertinent information quickly.
Who you are sharing the information with will depend somewhat on how your school views information sharing. In a couple of my previous schools, it was taboo to share any information about students, including whether or not we worked with them previously. In other schools, it is less secretive and information is shared pretty openly.
Who to share the information with also will depend on what level you are at (elementary, middle, high school) and what staff support looks like at your school. Here are some examples of who I have shared these info sheets with:
- Principal/ Assistant principal
- Safety Resource Officers (SROs)/ police in the building
- Counselors/ Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialist
- IEP team/ Special Service Providers/ Behavior Analysts
You may also want to consider asking the student who they feel comfortable going to in moments of crisis. In high school, this might be a coach who also works at the school. In elementary, a previous grade level teacher may be the student’s main support.
As you will see on the printable graphic, the language I use is “trusted adult”. This language comes from the Sources of Strength program, but this should be adjusted for the specific language your school uses.
When I give students a “pressure pass,” or a pass to leave the class in a moment of severe anxiety or stress, I have them outline three people/ places they can go. This is super important, because if the first person is not available, they still get support and have the space to regulate.
What are the most important things for you to know (and share) about your students?