Archived Principal Message: November 2011
Thoughts on Promoting Safe and Caring Schools
As educators, we carefully design learning to have universal, targeted and specialized approaches to promoting positive behavior through social participation. Much of our work focuses on providing learning opportunities to support students in order to be positively engaged with others in their learning environments. This includes classroom and school-wide activities, through interactions with others and through our ability to demonstrate self-regulation (Alberta Education, 2007).
In order for children and youth to be successful in school, it is important that the learning environment provides a sense of belonging, acceptance and safety (emotional, psychological and physical). There has been a great deal of research conducted on this work. The Alberta Teachers’ Association’s (ATA) Safe and Caring Schools Initiative (SACS) in 1996 is one example of a task force that set out to better understand the importance of promoting safe and caring schools. As a result of the findings of SACS initiative, the Alberta School Act was amended to include a section on safe and caring schools. Section 45(8) reads:
“A board shall ensure that each student enrolled in a school operated by the board is provided with a safe and caring environment that fosters and maintains respectful and responsible behaviours.”
In response to this legislation, the ATA has developed numerous resources supporting teachers and administration in creating caring, respectful, safe, orderly, positive and productive learning environments that ensure that students are free from the fear of physical and/or emotional harm.
School authorities have a number of options to facilitate the maintenance of safe and caring learning environments. This includes the development of policies, procedures, strategies and resources that foster and maintain respectful and responsible behaviours. At Colonel Walker School, teachers have worked diligently to create a safe and caring foundation for learning by focusing on the Colonel Walker Circle of Care which includes: Care for Self, Care for Others, Care for this Place and Care for our Learning.
Since the beginning of the school year, our students have been discussing these important principles in their classrooms, in assemblies and even on the playground. The result is evident in our students, each and every day. Not only do we have a common understanding and language as a school community, our students are empowered to take responsibility for their own behaviour, demonstrate self-discipline and have the skills to employ assertive and respectful communication with one another.
As one Colonel Walker teacher explains, the Colonel Walker Circle of Care vocabulary was used “to discuss behaviour expectations and also how all of us are connected to one another. We used in during our inquiry question: "Why is recess important?" and how to make recess the best it can be. I use the terms to describe behaviour and I notice that the students are using it in conversation about the way we treat each other and our school. During our UNICEF activities, we used the terms many times, especially talking about caring for others and caring for learning. I think its continued use will make it part of everyday vocabulary for all of us.”
Another teacher notes that “Our classroom talks about Caring in many ways each day. We highlight at the end of the day any caring we each witness through the day. Our class sits in a community circle and shares before we go home each day. Together we have made a caring board with writing and pictures that show caring. We refer to it during our caring circle time as well as throughout the day as we see caring or when we need to see more caring. The common language has impacted our classroom and school because students overtly know the expectations for them and how to verbally express them. I am always amazed at how students highlight what they see as caring and link it to one of our caring principles. Caring principles are not limited to direct caring discussions in our class. I am constantly amazed by the connections students make to caring in our various lessons. During a discussion on belonging and community in Social Studies many students mentioned that making people belong has to do with “caring for others.” We made a list of places that are special in our community and it led to a discussion on how we can “care for our community.”
I would like to welcome families to join us at our upcoming parent council meeting where we hope to talk further about the importance of the Colonel Walker Circle of Care. As an important part of our students’ vocabulary, the Colonel Walker Caring Principles will become more closely embedded in our assessment and reporting and will support students as they set learning goals for the personal, social and academic development.
We hope that you can join us on Wednesday November 16h at 6:00 p.m. for our next parent council meeting. All families are invited to attend.
Colonel Walker and Ramsay School
Archived Principal Messages
- April 2013 Principal Message
- March 2013 Principal Message
- February 2013 Principal Message
- December 2012 Principal Message
- November 2012 Principal Message
- October 2012 Principal Message
- September 2012 Principal Message
- June 2012 Principal Message
- May 2012 Principal Message
- April 2012 Principal Message
- March 2012 Principal Message
- February 2012 Principal Message
- January 2012 Principal Message
- December 2011 Principal Message
- November 2011 Principal Message
- October 2011 Principal Message
- September 2011 Principal Message
- June 2011 Principal Message
- May 2011 Principal Message
- April 2011 Principal Message
- March 2011 Principal Message