WE USE REFLECTION AS A TOOL FOR PROBLEM SOLVING
Just like a pilot can correct their course in order to successfully arrive at their destination, we at Shady Oak Primary are adaptable and flexible also. At the end of any planned activity, time is spent as a group reflecting on things that went well, things that didn’t work, what people enjoyed, and things people would like to add or change before the next time the activity is done. This is for anything from collaborative Project-Based Learning activities, Friday Feasts, PTA meetings, field trips, Grandparents Day, Student Recognition Ceremonies, Talent Shows, and on and on. Students and staff are part of this process. This gives participants opportunities to practice “voice and choice,” showing them that their opinion matters, and they are a valued member of the school community. It’s truly amazing to see 1st and 2nd graders coming up with effective contributions, adding their perception of events, providing valuable insight to their teachers, or 3rd, 4th and 5th graders starting their own businesses as a result of an idea someone had during reflection time!
OUR STUDENT GET A VOICE AND VOTE FOR WHAT THEY WANT
Another way course correction is used is giving students chances to vote on things they wish to do or study at certain times. Recess activities, science, and social studies topics, what to work on during math and ELA time, games, and art projects are some of the topics on which they may vote on, to name a few.
WE USE THE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE MODEL TO RESOLVE CONFICT AND PROBLEM SOLVE FOR SOLUTIONS
Problem-solving at Shady Oak Primary School is just as important to our school culture as academics; if not more so. There are several forms this can take; 1:1 between experienced students (3rd-5th graders) that are familiar with the process and who can handle conflict calmly and peacefully, 1:1:2 between two students with one monitoring adult and one supportive adult*, and as a whole group, where students or staff present a problem to the group, (usually an entire class) or during a staff meeting. The person seeking help asks for ideas from the group to find effective solutions to problems with everyone coming out feeling like they’ve been heard and being happy with the resolution.
*This is called a Restorative Circle, where students who feel they have been wronged in some way meet with 2 staff members and the other person who the first person perceived wronged them. This provides the students involved a feeling of safety, where each is given a turn to speak about the instance without being interrupted. A formal script is read by the adult manager of the meeting, while the other adult serves as an observer of all participants to support and positively acknowledge their contributions. The group then works together on peaceful resolution to restore the students’ relationship or take it to a deeper level of understanding and potential friendship.
It is all about effective communication, problem-solving and collaboration when it comes to this solution-oriented school.