Conscious Discipline at Greenview Middle School
In addition to a strong academic foundation, the SEL Schools are dedicated to helping students develop resilience and important social-emotional skills that enable them to better manage their own behavior, resolve conflict, and prevent bullying. To accomplish this objective, the SEL Schools provides teachers and staff training opportunities to implement Conscious Discipline, a comprehensive classroom management program and social-emotional curriculum based on current brain research. Through the training, teachers are empowered to provide students strategies and structures to help them learn and grow.
For Ms. Jessica Dreyer, a 5th grade math teacher at Greenview Middle School, Conscious Discipline has helped to reframe classroom routines and structures by making sure they are set up to promote physical and emotional safety, as well as student independence. This reframing is visible in the morning meeting routine she conducts with her homeroom students. While an abbreviated version is offered most school days due to schedule and COVID-related restrictions, Wednesdays have worked best due to more homeroom students being present. Each Wednesday morning meeting routine includes specific components.
First, Ms. Dreyer and students stand in a circle around the room and perform a different greeting activity, such as giving a fist bump to the person next to them and passing it along to the next person in the circle. The wish well activity provides students the opportunity to mention the name of a family member or friend who needs positive thoughts. After all the requests are shared, Ms. Dreyer and students place their hands over their heart and then extend them out to the circle as a symbol of their positive thoughts, caring, and empathy. A connection activity follows, such as a ‘feet-tapping’ activity where students walk around the room for a brief amount of time and tap their feet together one at a time. Ms. Dreyer and students also engage in a breathing technique, including balloon breathes, where students interlock their hands, raise their arms over their heads and lower them while taking deep breaths.
Students also review important procedures and behaviors they can take to be successful that day, including pushing in chairs, lining up in a safe and respectful manner, and being mindful of time spent on each task. By regularly reviewing and practicing classroom routines and structures, students know what to expect when they enter the classroom.
In both her homeroom and math classes, Ms. Dreyer also teaches students to recognize when they are upset or “shaken up”, using the analogy of a can of soda that has been shaken. Students are taught to realize that just like the contents of a shaken can of soda settle over time, students can calm down in the classroom’s Safe Space and share about their feelings once they have regained their composure. This also helps to build trusting relationships between the students and their teacher.
Overall, the Conscious Discipline program is helping students in the SEL Schools learn effective social-emotional strategies that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond. A special thank you to Ms. Jessica Dreyer for her effective use of Conscious Discipline in the classroom!