Creating a âPositiveâ Classroom Community
Last week, a group of Pembina Hills teachers had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Jennifer Katz speak about her âThree- Block Model of Universal Design for Learningâ. The first block works to create a âcommunityâ within the classroom by addressing social and emotional learning and includes three practices: Spirit Buddies, Democratic Classrooms and the Respecting Diversity Program. Dr. Katz is passionate about understanding that stress levels, sense of belonging and connectedness all affect how students learn. Brain based research tells us:
âStudents whose life circumstances are constantly stressful become physically damaged. But the hormone does leave the system quickly when the stressor is no longer present. Half an hour after the car incident, the shakiness will pass. When our schools offer a safe haven for students under stress, their cortisol levels will reduce after they arrive at school, their stress will subside, and they will be better able to enjoy their learning. â(Page 28, âTeaching to Diversity The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learningâ)
Arlene Bujold of Westlock Elementary has already put âSpirit Buddiesâ into practice in her grade 5 classroom. She writes,
âIt was really touching today to see some of my shy and quiet students engaging in non-academic conversations (Spirit Buddies) and I was especially pleased to see the leadership roles that some of the students took on!â
Some comments from Arleneâs students:
MORE ABOUT âSPIRIT BUDDIESâ â¦ âSpirit Buddiesâ is a simple practice that ensures that every child starts their day on a positive note. Students self-select groups of three for the month or term; choosing partners that they donât usually spend time with. These groups spend up to 15 minutes a day sharing. This practice creates a classroom where everyone knows someone, feels connected and is welcomed.
WANT MORE INFORMATION â¦ For more information on âSpirit Buddiesâ and the rest of the âThree Block Model of Universal Design for Learningâ plan on attending the workshop offered by ERLC or pick up Dr. Jennifer Katzâs book, âTeaching to Diversity The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learningâ.
COURSE CODE: 13-IE-028
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This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
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