To develop students who are capable, confident, and healthy members of the community, we put much effort into the development of social and emotional skills in all of our learners. As part of our Self-Regulation Program, all of our students benefit from explicit lessons in the classroom that directly promote the identification, understanding, and practicing of social and emotional skills. Although these lessons span a variety of themes throughout the year, the promotion of social and emotional skills is an important component to this program. Some explicit lessons that students may receive include such topics as “Managing Strong Feelings”; “How to Get Back to the Green Zone”; “Mindful Listening”; “Coping with Stress”; “Understanding Social Conflict”; and “Recognizing Bullying Behavior”.
Students are also provided with ample opportunities to interact with a wide variety of students and staff members to promote their abilities to connect with others, establish relationships, and maintain friendships. Recess is designed to group students in kindergarten through 2nd grades, 3rd through 5th grades, and 6th through 8th grades, to give students an opportunity to meet and interact with students in multiple grades. Students also participate in the school-wide Buddy Program, where each student in the building is assigned another student to partner with for the entirety of the school year. Together, the pairs complete monthly activities together to establish and develop connection and relationships. Students greatly enjoy the long-term friendships they develop as a result of this program.
Students also participate in our School Families Program. School Families are made of students in grades K-8th grade, and each family is assigned one or two staff members. School Families get together once per month to talk about Catholic values and complete activities as a group, which are often tied to service. This is yet another fantastic way that we provide students with opportunities to create school-wide community and practice their social and emotional skills with a new set of students and teachers.
Students in 3rd grade have the added bonus of receiving additional instruction in bullying prevention. This program, entitled Steps to Respect, supports the development of a welcoming classroom culture, as well as student expertise on bullying prevention. Students learn the three R’s of Bullying: Recognize, Refuse, and Report, through the use of interactive instruction, discussion, academic work, individual reflection, and partner and small group activities. As a result of this program, students feel assured about the application of Catholic values in the Assumption-St. Bridget School community, competent in recognizing and responding to marginalized members of the school community, and confident about their role in establishing and maintaining an inclusive school climate.
While many schools are doing away with or shortening the unstructured play time that students have within the context of their school day, Assumption-St. Bridget School believes that this time enriches the child’s educational experience. These times during the day provide all of our students with opportunities to play and think creatively without limits. Students may build, tell stories, engage in fantasty play, practice basketball, soccer, football, or volleyball, play with hulahoops, jump ropes, or boucy balls, or join group games. We encourage students to use this time to develop connections with peers, take risks and try new things, and use their body and mind to create and explore. In Kindergarten through 5th grades, students receive 50-minutes of recess per day, while in grades 6-8 students still receive 30-minutes of recess per day. PreKindergarten and Kindergarten students have additional developmentally-appropriate play opportunities within the structure of their school days.
As part of our Tier 1 programming in social and emotional skills, we also promote enrichment in social and emotional skills through leadership opportunities. At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we strive to create graduates who have both comfort, experience, and confidence in taking on leadership positions in their current and future communities. We focus on the development of leadership skills, which are strongly linked to social and emotional skills, in all grades, in such opportunities as:
- Leading whole-class service projects;
- Presenting learning to the community (i.e. Reading Rodeo – 1st Grade; Learning Luau – 2nd Grade; Long-Range Study Project – 3rd Grade; Native American Project – 4th Grade; National Parks Project – 5th Grade);
- Participating in performances (i.e. Christmas and Spring Concerts);
- School-wide Buddy Program (leadership opportunity for older buddies); and
- School-wide Families Program (leadership for 8th grade students).
As a capstone to our leadership programming, our 8th grade students also participate in our 8th Grade Leadership Course. This course is designed to hone leadership potential and styles through the application of executive functioning and social/emotional skill sets. Students are expected to graduate from Assumption-St. Bridget School motivated to use their executive functioning and social/emotional skills to fulfill future leadership roles in academics, clubs, sports, service, and the arts. This enrichment course provides them with instruction, activities, discussion, and reflection prompts to encourage student contemplation of why and how they want to showcase and use their strengths in the wide world beyond Assumption-St. Bridget School.
Learning about, discussing, practicing, and reflecting upon social and emotional skills is something that is ingrained in our teaching practices and the educational environment we provide our students. Teachers consistently use reminders and direct feedback to help all students recognize their social and emotional skills and work to improve them. Because of our emphasis on the development of social and emotional skills, parents may hear about their child’s development in this area in emails, parent-teacher conferences, and in comments on report cards.