Creating Compassionate Schools
While it is widely recognized that teachers are tasked with creating the learning conditions for students, some student-specific variables represent situations well beyond what the teachers and students control. These student-specific variables can include a number of traumatic events experienced by the child, including: tragic accidents, sudden death of parent(s), natural disasters), physical/emotional/sexual abuse, drug abuse and addiction in the household, and incarceration of a parent and/or significant adult. Educators need to understand the ways in which the needs of children who experience trauma and/or sustained periods of stress can differ significantly from their peers. For teachers not completely aware of the ways that adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) can impact students, the challenges for both students and teachers alike can be magnified. Taken in combination with the myriad of other ways that students differ, it is important that teachers have a plan for how they will understand the needs of learners with complex needs and respond compassionately so that all students remain connected to their schooling experience.
Creating Compassionate Schools will provide teachers an overview of the rationale for embracing pedagogical strategies rooted in compassion. The course has been developed to introduce educators to the principles and practices of an approach that "gets it right" for both students and their teachers. Creating Compassionate Schools will provide an introductory look at the scientific research-base emerging from a number of disciplines (e.g., social services, education research, neurobiology, public health approaches) in support of compassionate schooling. With compassion as a lens through which professionals can view their work, a number of topics such as professional learning communities, action research and job satisfaction will be explored. Implications of the approach will be discussed as well as barriers to implementation.
Attention will also be devoted to considering the shifting educational landscape as legislative efforts to increase the prominence of social and emotional learning (SEL) standards across K-12 settings are occurring. The defining characteristics of Compassionate Schools will be considered along with characteristics of other movements such as Positive Behavior and Instructional Supports (PBIS), Differentiated Instruction (DI) and Whole Child Education. Exemplars of states operating in alignment with compassionate schooling principles will included.
Teachers responding to the needs of a diverse learning population that include such variables often feel unprepared and isolated. Attempts to connect with colleagues and others within their educational context can yield limited results. Creating Compassionate Schools will also include resources for reflecting on the level of complexity present in classrooms today. Research-based information and strategies will provide course participants with:
- a pedagogical framework which recognizes a definition of student diversity that includes students impacted by adverse childhood experiences,
- strategies for professionals attempting to meet the immediate needs of learners impacted by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs),
- tools which teachers may use immediately within a compassionate approach, and
- strategies and tools for engaging colleagues to respond similarly so that a culture of care is the long-term result in educational settings where children with complex needs are served.
Designed with a K-12 professional audience in mind, Creating Compassionate Schools offers insight into challenges faced by professionals across the educational spectrum in identifying, addressing, and collaborating around the complex needs of students.
Participants will be able to:
- Distinguish between empathy and compassion within the school setting
- Understand the role compassionate schooling plays within the broad context of school reform
- Consider legislative efforts reflecting increased awareness of need for social emotional learning standards (SEL) nationwide
- Understand the concerns some professionals may have regarding creating compassionate schools
- Locate information on rationale for compassionate schools that supports a balanced reform approach
- Understand the philosophical framework that supports the compassionate schooling approach
- Locate and access best practice government resources relevant to social emotional learning and concepts associated with compassionate schooling
- Utilize a self-reflection tool to determine the current level of implementation of social emotional learning for the course participant's context
- Learn a working definition of a compassionate school
- Understand how different movements (e.g., Differentiation Instruction, PBIS, SEL) fit with a compassionate schooling approach
- Identify characteristics of positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS) that may already exist in teaching context
- Understand and assess for level of evidence of social and emotional learning (SEL) within current teaching context
- Review one state's model for supporting school districts to implement compassionate schools.
- Identify barriers to creating compassionate schools
- Understand the significance of the concept of a "standard of care" within educational settings
- Articulate the ways in which creating a compassionate school demonstrates a professional standard of care
- Understand the basis for a shift from reliance on educational labels toward understanding learner complexity
- Consider how professional responses to student needs can alleviate or increase student needs
- Identify one state-level attempt to implement social emotional learning (SEL) standards
- Understand and apply terminology of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue to their own work context
- Apply a specific reflection strategy that demonstrates understanding of the challenges associated with serving students with complex needs
- Understand the significance of students feeling connected to their school experience.
- Recognize the degree to which adverse childhood experiences create disconnects for learners as they experience school
- Review importance of complying with mandatory reporting requirements
- Understand the ways in which students who have experienced adverse childhood experiences are in triple jeopardy
- Discern the difference between behavioral forms and behavioral functions
- Validate the need for professions to listen for a student's voice through their behaviors
- Understand how an increased awareness of the impact of maltreatment reinforces the need for brain-compatible learning approaches
- Understand the educational significance of the current scientific research on the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
- Understand how ACEs can potentially increase complexities for students, parents, and professionals, and communities
- Develop awareness of a tool for assessing individual and collective (eg, classroom, school) levels of student maltreatment and ACEs
- Conduct a survey of colleagues on the concept of ACEs and report observations demonstrating understanding of concepts
- Demonstrate ability to reflect on your own level of ACEs and how this may influence your interactions with students
- Distinguish characteristics of good stress and bad stress and how these impact capacity to learn
- Locate resources that could be useful in identifying characteristics of students experiencing childhood traumatic stress
- Learn basic components of effective engagement with students who are currently experiencing varying levels of stress
- Demonstrate understanding of course concepts by completing a functional based assessment on a particular student
- Interpret information about the negative impacts of early adversity and toxic stress levels and apply this information to current teaching context
- Articulate different types of trauma and how they might impact educational routines
- Implement a compassionate schooling action plan at the individual, classroom, or school level and provide evidence of impact
- Demonstrate understanding of core compassionate school concepts through submission of personal teaching philosophy statement reflecting course concepts
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