I know there are schools out there doing everything on this list and more! Here is hoping that more jump on this beautifully compassionate path to promoting behaviors that lead to increased happiness and well being of students, staff and families.
- Calm Down and Connection Strategies All students learn strategies that help them to calm down when they are experiencing intense emotions. They are educated on the brain and what is happening that leads to these extreme emotions and why they may not be able to move through them quickly. They would receive a compressive program that seeks to enhance each students emotional intelligence. A bank of strategies, based on positive psychology and mindfulness, will assist students with self-regulation and transferring extreme feelings and emotions into calm clear thinking and states of being.
- A poster of the calm down strategies could be located in every room with strategies such as mindful breathing, meditating, reading, counting to 10, walking away, going to safe space (see Calm Quarters) A version of the Calm down caterpillar.
- Calm Quarters; is a space in the school where students can go and experience a ‘Time In’ rather than a ‘Time out’. With a trained staff member to support and guide. It is a place with calming colours, possible gentle sounds or music, where they are able to calm down, meditate, practice calm down strategies, etc The important take away is… many children need a nurturing environment to assist them in changing behaviors that are not serving them and those around them. This is not making excuses for poor behavior it is acknowledging that there is a wide gamete of reasons why a child will behave in a certain way. Giving them the space and the opportunity to cool down so that they are more able to reflect on their behavior will assist them in adopting strategies to catch themselves before their behavior escalates. It would be really great to have a mini-clam down quarters in every room, especially in those classrooms where students have extreme social and emotional needs that require them to have their own space to help them self-regulate. (Perhaps making the classroom library an inviting space to retreat too.)
- Mindfulness and meditation Are not just for calming down. They help us know ourselves better. Studies have shown that creating time in our day where students are taught to quiet their mind and focus on an affirmation, goal, mantra or centring thought leads to increased focus, self-esteem, relieves stress , increases general well-being and more.
- Actions Plans: Every student who has social, emotional or behavioural challenges and needs must have a personalized action plan that they are aware of. It is a step by step process of what they need to do when they start to experience certain feelings, emotions, desire to be disruptive, ect. Apart of this plan is when the teacher will choose to recommend a ‘Time In’ . An action Plan Folder needs to be somewhere visible. And copy or a note on where to find it needs to be with the CRT folder.
- Time In rather than Time out- The teacher has an important and at first challenging role. The teacher must make a prediction based on the behaviour of a student whether it is an appropriate time to encourage a time in (this will be different for every student but ultimately it is the point you catch them when there has been a a few instances where it looks like it may escalate or they just can’t focus. ) You could have time in tickets, here they are invited to go into the classroom or school calm quarters where they will have a designated amount of time to get quiet, calm down and re-set.
- The Good Kids: I hate that term but here it is… Alain De Bottom , in a recent article, ‘The Dangers of the Good Child’, the ones who always do the right thing, always do their class work, ect., are the ones who later in life have extreme challenges. Dr. Carol Dwec also writes about how girls work out early how not to upset the apple cart and as a consequence later they don’t take as many risks, as boys, due to their fear of not being perfect. These students make our life as educators easy but they need meditation, mindfulness, growth mindset education and the calm down strategies just as much as the kids who present with extreme issues.
I can hear some teachers and principals wincing with the thought of more work!!!
I remember reading about a school in Baltimore that had a similar approach to what I am suggesting above. A local not for profit applied for funding to start running this program, in the school, and the results were incredible.
I am putting together a proposal, to apply for funding, based on some of the ideas presented here, to support and enhance student happiness and general well being. If you are living in Melbourne and would like to join forces or ideas please email me.
Wishing Calm Quarters and Happiness
P.S. Join my email list Today and receive ‘Six Easy Mindfulness Activities: Creating Calm, connection and Confident Creative Kids.’
P.S.S. I forgot to include my own program!!! 8. Mindful Storytelling: Action packed adventures that promote mindfulness and creative expression through movement.