An important theme that our leadership team and our teachers will be striving to put into action from the very start of this school year is the concept of ‘connecting before correcting’. Prior to going into the summer holidays in June, our entire elementary faculty team at Gardens Elementary School, completed two days of training in Positive Discipline. This is a training program that is aimed at helping parents and teachers discover positive solutions and teaching strategies that help to build respect at home and in the classroom.
One of the most important underpinnings of this training is to always ‘connect before correct’ and in doing so we not only strengthen the bonds of trust, we also create much deeper levels of significance and belonging in our schools. Seems like such a no brainer that creating the conditions for human connection to flourish in our classrooms should be a top priority. Why is it then that we sometimes have so much difficulty investing the necessary time and energy into making this happen with more consistency in our schools?
As love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace, there is no greater time than the present moment to devote ourselves to this cause.
What might we need to let go of in order to place belonging and significance at the top of our priority list as we start the school year? How do the conversations that we have need to change in order to ensure all members of staff genuinely understand the importance of creating a greater sense of belonging and significance with their students? What is the role of leadership in helping to prioritize this pursuit?
As mental health issues have been steadily increasing among both young people and adults every single year over the past decade (and projected to rise dramatically each year into the future), it is the dire responsibility of every school to create curriculums that embed social and emotional learning as part of the fabric of who they are and what they do. However, it’s the ‘how’ behind how they get this done that needs to be a part of the ongoing conversations happening in their schools on a daily basis.
As well, it is an important reminder that creating a greater sense of belonging and significance does not only apply to our students. Our teachers must also feel that they matter and that their own levels of mental, social and emotional well-being play an equally significant role in the workplace.
When planning for great teaching and learning, there is no question that student achievement data in literacy, math, and other areas of the curriculum are a critical part of the conversations that need to take place during meetings. However, in what ways are we building time into these meetings to address the social and emotional needs of our teachers? How do we need to better structure our meetings to allow time for teachers to unpack where they are at, what they are struggling with and what they might need in order for them to be at their best both personally and professionally? If our teachers are not in a great place mentally, socially, and/or emotionally, how can they possibly be there to the extent that their students need them to be.
This blog post is an important reminder about the need to create more authentic conversations in our schools about how we all play a critical role in building a greater sense of belonging and significance in order to allow all stakeholders to thrive. Consider how the 6 questions below might help to spark more meaningful discussions about strengthening the bonds of trust and deepening levels of belonging and significance in our schools?
What commitments will your leadership team make to prioritize social, emotional and mental well-being within your school?
How much time will be devoted to having authentic conversations about social, emotional and mental well-being in your school?
How will social, emotional, and mental well-being be unpacked and co-constructed with both teaching faculty and students in your school?
How will leaders and teachers hold each other accountable for ‘connecting before correcting’ in your school?
How are we building psychological safety in a way that allows all voices to genuinely be heard in our schools?
What role will mindfulness play in helping to promote a greater sense of belonging and significance in your school?
You can download a PDF of the visual with the 6 questions for your own use. Thanks for reading and let us know how things go.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily