Building Learning Partnerships
Trust between teachers and students is the affective glue that binds educational relationships together (Brookfield, 2000). Relationships, or "learning partnerships" are one of the foundational principles of culturally responsive teaching. The social emotional health of an individual is inextricably linked to his or her ability to form relationships with others. Brighton's attention to this social emotional learning (SEL) directly impacts the partnerships we are able to build with our students and subsequently impacts their development.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL, 2020). SEL is about building community and fostering supportive classroom environments. SEL also focuses on recognizing differences among various social and cultural groups and how students and teachers can use communication and social skills to effectively interact with others.
Social Emotional Learning Across the District
- CRPS/FRES - Counselors use the Second Step curriculum to teach SEL skills to students at Council Rock and French Road. Second Step is a research based, Social-Emotional Curriculum that is used in over 70 countries all over the world. Second Step is embraced by teachers, engaging for students, and implemented in the classroom each cycle. More information can be found at: Second Step Website
At French Road, counselors are beginning to use lessons from the Learning For Justice (Formerly Teaching Tolerance) to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. Teaching Tolerance emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The anti-bias approach encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Our Social Justice Standards show how anti-bias education works through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action. A complete list of lessons being used this year at FRES can be found here.
- K-12 - Use of community building circles
Across the District, all teachers have been trained to use community building circles to establish and maintain relationships with students. These circles are the first stage of the restorative practices continuum and serve as a foundation for all subsequent work by proactively building relationships and a sense of community, utilizing affective statements that communicate people’s feelings and affective questions that cause people to reflect on their own thoughts and behaviors. The circle process allows people to tell their stories and offer their own perspectives.
- K-12 - Use of restorative practices
Restorative Practices is a social science that studies how to build social capital and achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision making. It is based in developing social and emotional capacity to create relationships. These practices may include peer mediation, community building sessions, student/staff mediations, etc. In Brighton, restorative practices may be used in conjunction with traditional discipline measures to repair harm and restore relationships. These practices provide a safe environment for people to communicate and express both feelings and emotions. Once trust and mutual understanding is built, individuals are often able to work through difficult situations and develop a greater respect and caring for all in the environment in which the conflict occurred. Restorative practices provide students an opportunity to engage in restorative conversations when conflict/code of conduct violations take place with other students or staff. Our goal is to have students and staff work together to repair relationships and to discover solutions to the conflict/problem, building essential skills for the future. (Adapted from pages 1-5 of the Community Building Circles booklet from PIRI).
To date, restorative circles are being used at TCMS and BHS intermittently, when a situation calls for a relationship to be restored. Plans have been made to continue training counselors and administrators in the practice of running restorative circles so that they can be used as part of our tiered intervention system. A complete timeline of Brighton's efforts to incorporate social emotional learning practices and restorative practices can be found here.
Families as Learning Partners
One of the subgroups of the District's Diversity/Equity committee focuses on family engagement. Parents/caregivers are integral partners in the learning process and our relationships with our families are critical to ensuring the success of all of our students. In the last three years, this committee has surveyed caregivers to determine how to best meet their needs in helping their children. From this we've learned that we need to do more to help our families new to the district acclimate to the Brighton community. We've worked with the PTSA to establish parent liasions in each building and held welcome sessions and orientations to specifically help them learn about the school where their child/children is attending and assisted them in connecting with each other.
In Brighton, we have a culturally diverse population with many students entering each year who do not speak English. We are proud of the fact that there are over 47 languages spoken across the district by our families and we continue to find ways to provide translation services to these families so that they can actively participate in the learning community.