This past year, I set a professional goal that included making social emotional behavioral learning more accessible to the educators ESU 10. One of my action steps included teaching a night class called Compassion Centered Classrooms. This idea came from my previous work with trauma-informed care, culturally responsive teaching, and mindfulness. Kelly Devorss co-facilitated the course with me. We met 6 times on Zoom over 3 months with 10 participants from 5 different ESU 10 districts and 3 ESU 10 employees.
In this course, educators worked on building compassion “muscles” by looking at practices that help provide a safe and healthy learning environment. Compassion is empathy in action. Cultivating compassion in the classroom can help prevent problems, address students' needs as they arise, repair inequities, and cultivate resiliency in educators and students. A compassion centered classroom is a classroom that educates the whole child and supports the facilitating educator.
The learning outcomes of this 3 month night course included:
Explaining how to create a culture of safety in which everyone feels valued, important, and capable of learning.
Describing the four areas of need—emotional, relational, physical, and control—that drive student behaviors and show how to meet these needs with interventions framed around the new three Rs (relationships, responsibility, and regulation)
Utilizing trauma-invested practices in action that identify students' unmet needs, incorporating interventions or strategies to support students and their families.
Offering opportunities to challenge beliefs and develop deeper and different ways of thinking about educators’ role in students' lives.
Participants were asked to practice one strategy between each class, then reflect on that strategy during the next class with the other participants. The strategies were linked to the new 3 Rs, relationships, responsibility, and regulation. They are all simple research based strategies from the resources listed below.
Souers, Kristin, and Peter A. Hall. Relationship, Responsibility, and Regulation: Trauma-Invested Practices for Fostering Resilient Learners. ASCD, 2019.
Souers, Kristin, and Peter A. Hall. Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classroom. Hawker Brownlow Education, 2016.
Hammond, Zaretta, and Yvette Jackson. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Corwin, 2015.
Frey, Nancy, et al. All Learning Is Social and Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond. ASCD, 2019.
The teachers that participated felt that the information learned from the course was not only valuable but easy to apply to current work with students. Below you will find feedback received from a few teachers that participated in the course.
“I feel that I had a significant amount of prior knowledge and the class and the book broke it down into very clear actions and affirmed or validated much of what I already knew. The material and presenters provided a new view or frame of reference from which I can share information with teachers and school staff.”
“Some items I already have and know and have just forgotten about....so I want to make myself reimplement those items back into my room on a regular basis! Some items were known like the language of the upstairs/downstairs brain and I want to teach this to my 1st grade student and hope it helps him to regulate and also with some social skills too.”
“I will definitely try to teach mindfulness in my classroom. I plan to implement some of the regulation strategies such as naming your emotion along with building relationship strategies.”
“I plan to implement several of the strategies that we talked about in class. I have implemented the 2 for 10 with several students already and have seen an improvement in our interactions.”
I learned a lot while facilitating this course with Kelly DeVorss and may look at offering it again in the future.