Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Clayton Elementary is a school with a rich history and proud community. Set in rural Surrey but surrounded by impending development, it is a small and close-knit community. Clayton is one of the original Surrey school sites established in 1891. The families, students, and staff take pride in their neighbourhood and have a desire for their school to be a big part of that community.
Clayton students are a wide range of learners with a variety of strengths. Supportive families, caring teachers and other school staff, and involved families give our students a wide support network on which to rely. Clayton staff, parents, and caregivers work together to give our students the best possible education.
Our biggest strength is our sense of community and togetherness. Parents and guardians strongly believe in and support our Clayton community and many of the staff are long established teachers and support staff who are truly devoted to making Clayton a true community school where we are all invested in every student.
One of the recent practices we have established is the Clayton Cougar Paw Awards. Teachers nominate one student per week to be recognized for their academic achievements, noticeable improvement or meeting a goal, or growth in an area of need. These students are invited to join the principal for a celebration of cookies and juice. At these celebrations, the question is always asked, “What is the best thing about Clayton?” Student answers have been “its a nice place” “everyone is friendly” “I always have someone to play with” “we have people who we can go to with our problems” “people care for each other”. These quotes are a typical sample of responses.
Our strength in building community is one we want to grow. We want our students to feel a sense of family and belonging to our school where we have fun times, learn and inquire together in a safe place, and feel empathy for each other when problems arise.
Our goal is to continue to build our sense of togetherness and give our learners concrete strategies to increase and maintain positive relationships with both adults and their peers which will increase their capacity for learning through self-regulated behaviour, a sense of safety, and a feeling of belonging.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
Clayton students are working towards building self-regulation strategies to achieve a calm, alert and focused state. When students are in a calm and alert state, the opportunities for learning are optimized . Our staff feel the need for a common language in regards to Social Emotional Learning in the area of self-regulation so learning from year to year consistent.
On the playground, it has been noted that students are learning to positively problem solve issues with their peers and regulate their outside behaviour. In light of the quotes that are given at the Cougar Paw Award celebrations, we want to build on students’ desire to keep Clayton Elementary a place where all students feel included and safe.
Teachers have noted that many of the students are responding well the Social Emotional Learning instruction and strategies in the classroom. Students have been learning various check in systems such as the Zones of Regulation and Check your Engine. In class, teachers report that students are able to accurately asses which state or zone they are in with accuracy and then are able use the tools given to regulate their behaviour to a calmer state which is more conducive to learning. Teachers have noted that using “soft starts”, giving choice in the environment, providing ongoing reinforcement of self-assessment of a student’s zone or state, and providing tools to help students be calm and alert are positively impacting learning and focus in the classrooms.
While our students are responding well and have shown evidence of learning effective self-regulation strategies within the classroom, they are still working toward using these strategies when playing and interacting with their peers on the playground and during non-academic times. As with all developing young citizens, students are learning the ingredients for positive social interactions and building their problem solving skills.
We have also observed that students have a true desire to make our school their own and often come with great ideas to make our school their own. They have a sense of voice and often know what to say. We want them now to live it.
Our staff is committed to helping our students develop and grow in their empathy and problem-solving skills in the classroom and strengthening our sense of community through a variety of whole-school activities, events, and initiatives which will help our students feel more connected both to each other and to the community in which they belong.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
How will teaching our students strategies to self-regulate increase their focus in the classroom?
How will continuing to build our community and fostering a stronger sense of togetherness and belonging for our students impact student behaviour and empathy for each other?
4. What professional learning do we need?
We have been learning from and using the following resources:
- Zones of Regulation
- Mind Up
- Alert system
- Check your Engine
- SEL curriculum
- Peace Tables
- Wheel of Choices
- Second Step
- Building the Empathetic School
- Creating the Grateful School
We have had multiple professional development sessions on self-regulation, creating our vision for students (See number 6), and developing plans for the 2018/2019 year on how we can build our community and idea of an empathetic school. We are excited to see these plans come to fruition and our staff is deeply committed toward these goals.
5. What is our plan?
- Teachers attended Gordon Neufeld presentation on Attachment based teaching practices in the summer.
- All teachers will teach brain science and basic calm breathing practice from MindUp curriculum.
- Primary teachers to teach Zones of Regulation program –
- teaching students the language of the zones (Blue, Green, Yellow, Red)
- teaching students the strategies to help get to or stay in the green zone
- teach students difference between tools and toys
- use methods to have student assess and reassess their state multiple times throughout the day
- Intermediate teachers to teach Mind up and use the work of Stuart Shankar, Calm, Alert and Learning
- assessing and changing the environments to create a calm space for students to learn and include choices for students to access a variety of enviroments
- teach students about the different states and how they impact learning (Alert system, How does your engine run?)
- give soft starts and use class meetings to help students form a community
- Focus all our ArtStarts performances on self-regulation and friendship/problem-solving skills
- Deliver Roots of Empathy (one class – Grade 4/5)
- Restorative Justice practices in the office when discipline needs support of Principal
Staff are have regular meetings to discuss our inquiry.
Parents, students and staff have all contributed ideas to this plan.
- create a vision of what we would like to see on our playground and between students
- discuss and decide on resource for common language – Second Step program
- Teach the skills of the Second Step Program in each classroom – focus on empathy and conflict resolution
- create opportunities within the school year to foster a sense of belonging to our Clayton Community
- family groupings – meetings on a regular basis
- Who I Am day
- peer mediators/mentors
- lunch time programming
- buddy program
- Outreach program – have a common goal to work on together – charitable focus
- Me to We program
- before school, lunchtime, after school interest clubs
- spirit days
- community events to bring families together
- Birthday celebrations
- multicultural celebrations
- building and sharing our gratitudes
- Greeters – both at classroom level and school level
- leadership opprtunities
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
We will begin to see the vision!
What would we see and hear from our students and what would be they be doing if they had peaceful, competent conflict resolution skills?
- Caring thoughtful individuals
- Helpful, Sharing
- Using Manners
- Paying attention
- Problem solving skills, actively listening
- Collaborating with each other
- Turn taking
- Ownership – over own actions
- Intrinsically motivated
- Follow though, bringing it back around at the end
- Students wanting to go outside
- Getting along
- Solving more themselves
- Happier, Relaxed
- Wanting to come to school
- Taking others perspectives
- Being able to focus on academics
- Being able to admit when they did something wrong
- Less tattle-taling
- Students talking together
- Playing, laughing
- Using a variety of techniques for solving problems – rocks paper scissors, shoes in, flip a coin, pick a number
- Students intervening to help others
- Saying “lets go get help”, “that’s not okay”
- Proposing solutions, trying possibilities
- Speaking directly with each other
- Students using calm down strategies before talking together
- Students showing negative emotions but working to get in control
- Apologizing sincerely and without being told
What would teachers/EAs roles be – what would WE be saying and doing if our students had peaceful, competent conflict resolution skills?
- Positive reinforcement
- Providing opportunities for them to display these features
- Giving positive attention
- Bringing attention to results
- Giving autonomy
- “what can you do to solve this?”
- teaching the process of resolutions
- planning engaging academic lessons with inquiry minded focus
- planning STEAM, hands on activities where students work together
- sharing strategies for home life
- giving time and space for students to use their skills
- reminding students of process
- Giving time and space to calm
- decreasing involvement with problem-solving as students are able to solve issues more independently
- I’m here for you, I care about you
- How can I help?
- Let’s do this together
What would my role as principal be if the students had peaceful, competent conflict resolution skills?
- involved in all of the above
- More time to the pursue the direction of our school and students
- Visit more classrooms
- Look into more support for students and school, providing unique opportunities for our school
- Lunch time programs
- Provide collaboration time for teachers
- Dealing only with major issues between students – most would be resolved between students and at the classroom level
- Positive reinforcement
- Providing learning opportunities for staff and students
- Creation of school-wide structures and processes to advance student learning
What would parents be saying and doing if their children had competent, peaceful conflict resolution skills?
- Reinforcing strategies at home
- Adoption of similar problem-solving strategies
- Continued and increased involvement in other community events
- Working with staff collaboratively around issues
- Able to focus on academic learning
- Increased solution focused communication
- Parent nights to further education on Social Emotional learning and problem-solving
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
Through our meetings a staff we have adjusted our inquiry from a classroom focus to a school-wide focus. We have seen evidence that students are able to self-regulate with and without assistance and reminders for learning. We now feel that a wider focus on building empathy and our sense of togetherness will capitalize on our strength of community and will achieve our desired vision.
It will be through all members of our community working together – all students, all staff, all families – that we will see our school become the best it can be.