1st Edition

Educators as First Responders A Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Development and Mental Health, Grades 6-12

By Deborah Offner Copyright 2023
    204 Pages
    by Eye On Education

    204 Pages
    by Eye On Education

    Educators as First Responders is a comprehensive, hands-on guide to adolescent development and mental health for teachers and other educators of students in grades 6-12. Today’s schools are at the forefront of supporting adolescents with increasingly complex, challenging psychosocial needs. Moreover, students are more likely to seek out a trusted teacher, advisor, or coach for support than to confide directly in a parent or even a school counselor. Succinct and accessible, this book provides tips and strategies that teachers, coaches, nurses, counselors, and other school professionals can put into immediate use with students in varying degrees of distress. These evidence-based practices and real-world classroom examples will help you understand the “whole student,” a developing individual shaped not just by parental pressure or psychiatric diagnosis but by school and broader cultural and systemic forces.


    Section I: Educators and Adolescents  1. Educators As First Responders  2. The Adolescent Mind  3. They Did What? Risk, Reward, and Impulsivity  4. Worried, Sad, or Something More?  Section II: Outside Forces  5. Race and Culture  6. Socioeconomic Considerations  7. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation  8. Crisis  Section III: Strengthening Their Circle of Support  9. Meet the Parents  10. Encouraging an Emotionally Healthy School


    Deborah Offner is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked in schools and colleges as a counselor, educator, and consultant for 25 years. She is Consulting Psychologist at Beacon Academy in Boston, MA, and provides counseling, supervision, and professional consultation to several other middle and secondary schools. Her areas of expertise include adolescent development and mental health, student affairs, and professional development for K-12 educators.

    "This is a relevant, current, and timely resource for educators at a moment when supporting the mental and emotional health of adolescents is increasingly and critically urgent! Dr. Offner shares her deep understanding of adolescents and of schools with a distinctly engaging book that provides essential insights, compelling stories, provocative questions, and practical advice for teachers to develop their skills for supporting students and to advocate for improved school culture and policy. A must-read."
    —Karen Lassey, Ed.D., Assistant Principal at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire

    "Deborah Offner has written an important, useful book to help every teacher deal with the psychological storms that sweep through their classrooms. Her clinical wisdom and practical guidance are developmentally sound and totally on target, and her clear writing and vivid examples will be recognized by every teacher. If educators only read one book to help prepare them to aid struggling adolescents, it should be Educators as First Responders."
    —Michael Thompson, Ph.D., New York Times Bestselling Author and International Speaker and School Consultant

    "Educators as First Responders provides us with keen insights and practical ways to navigate and address the conflicting currents evident among adolescents today. Dr. Offner’s years of clinical and hands-on experience shines as she guides the reader through topics such as the development of students’ identities, the effects of stress, academic rigor, and technology-influenced social relationships. Dr. Offner’s care and commitment to supporting educators is demonstrated through her masterful yet easy-to-read use of language and anecdotes that engage our minds and speak to our hearts."
    —Jennifer Peck-Nolte, School Counselor at Princeton Day School, New Jersey

     "From the outset, Deborah Offner centers her work around the most overlooked and critical parts of our jobs as educators: our relationships with and responses to our students’ social and emotional needs. While we educators know that our students’ well-being is in our hands, we also know that our ability to help a student who reaches out to us in crisis depends on the effectiveness of our response. This is what causes many educators the greatest amount of angst and handwringing, because, as Dr. Offner asserts, we ‘are not trained for this!’

    Finally, we have a book from a renowned clinical psychologist and school consultant with over twenty years of experience who provides educators with an accessible guide to adolescent development and mental health. Not only does Dr. Offner offer a solid foundation for understanding the adolescent brain, but she also includes scenarios between teachers and students that play out in classrooms every day in order to provide tips and skills that will build teacher confidence and competence and ensure positive outcomes for our students.

    Now, more than ever, this book fills a void and provides much-needed guidance for educators to respond effectively to students’ myriad social and emotional needs. In acknowledging educators as first responders, Dr. Offner’s book directly addresses the adolescent mental health crisis by equipping school staff with the necessary toolkit to help our students thrive."
    —Jenny Robertson, English teacher at Newton South High School, Massachusetts