- Maybe it’s the fact that the hallways are always quiet.
- Maybe it’s the absence of yelling.
- Maybe it’s the camaraderie that you see between staff and students.
- Maybe it’s the laughter and joy that you hear outside on the playground and inside the classrooms.
- Maybe it’s the sign that greets you on the front door: starting your visit to the school with a positive message.
I love the positive spin on this front door sign: instead of saying, "report to the office." Words matter! pic.twitter.com/N6Vg32b24V
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) September 15, 2016
Or maybe it’s something different altogether. Last week though, I knew without a doubt, that I was teaching in a Self-Reg Haven.
I still remember the moment it happened. It was the beginning of the second nutrition break, and I was sitting in the staffroom with some other teachers. We were chatting, when all of a sudden, one teacher said, “There’s a child in the closet!” What? To the left of the door, there is a small closet, and sure enough, if you looked closely, you could see a child standing inside. One of the teachers recognized the child, and called out his name. He replied, and opened the closet door. He then told us why he was hiding in the closet instead of going outside for recess: he felt as though he “didn’t have any friends.” What I noticed right away is that every person in the staffroom offered to walk with him outside and help him find a place to play and some people that would make him happy.
- Nobody dismissed his feelings.
- Nobody spoke harshly to him.
- Nobody suggested that he go to the office.
- And absolutely nobody wanted to punish him for hiding in the closet.
Every person wanted to support this child and help him feel better. Every person was willing to give up part of his/her lunchtime to help a student that needed it. This child, like every child in this school, is loved … and this child, like every child in this school, knows it. There’s something to be said for these kinds of relationships.
As I sat in the staffroom on that day, I realized, I have never heard an educator here speaking negatively about a child. There are always discussions around …
- what else do our students need?
- how can we better support them?
- what is causing them stress?
- how can we reduce these stressors?
Punishment is never the ultimate goal, and children are always seen through an asset lens. Reflecting now, I think that this helps create the makings of a Self-Reg Haven. What do you think? How do we create these “havens” in all school environments? Everybody deserves to feel the safety, happiness, and sense of calm that comes from an environment such as this one.
Aviva Dunsiger has been the Portal Plus Moderator for a year now and completed the Foundations 1 Certification Program. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca. Aviva is excited to contribute a monthly post on The MEHRIT Centre Blog.