Building a Haven

I recently completed an amazing course through the MEHRIT Centre aimed at helping school leaders to bring Self-Reg to their building. 

As part of our last assignment, we selected ‘Look-Fors’ that would help us measure our progress towards building a Haven School over the next three months. 

I’m looking forwards to developing a similar list with my school team in September, but for now, here are the top 20 things I believe will help me to realize we’re on the right path.

  1. Each child, staff member and family has an understanding of what it means to feel Safe, Rooted, Balanced, Trusted, and Capable and have been asked to rate how strong this feeling is on a scale of 1-5. This data forms the basis of our school’s Wellness goal.  
  2. Each child, staff member and family can identify at least one ‘caring adult’ in our school they can turn to.  
  3. We have a village around us made up of as many caring adults as possible so students and adults are never far removed from emotional or practical support (volunteers, bus-drivers, community members, co-op students, guest teachers, service and agency representatives).  
  4. Every child, staff and family member that enters our building is greeted with a smile and nonverbal cues that send a message of welcome and belonging. We ‘light-up’ when we see them.  
  5. Every child, staff and family member is given a farewell when they leave that implies, ‘I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.’
  6. We see eye contact in the hallway. People are fully present for all conversations.
  7. We use soft eyes, ears and voices with everyone who comes into the school (staff, students, families, or community).  
  8. As the adults, we model soothing when student’s limbic alarms are sounding.  
  9. When our own alarms are sounding, we confidently ask to tap-out and engage in something that helps us to restore our energy.
  10. Conversations focus on strengths, not deficits. We don’t gossip about each other, students or families. When someone starts to do this, we gently move them back to an asset-based lens.  
  11. The office is seen as a safe place for students, staff and families. People gather there without having to be coaxed in.   
  12. The Staff room is designed to promote restoration. Staff gather there daily. 
  13. Common planning times are used to foster collaborative environments. 
  14. Those who choose to engage in Self-Reg. learning outside of designated meeting times.
  15. Self-Regulation is embedded within every team-meeting. 
  16. Language around ‘backpacks’ and how we can ‘lighten the load’ is heard during conversations.  
  17. Noise levels are kept low (transitions, nutrition breaks, end-of-day routines).  
  18. Students have at least one outdoor learning period a day.  
  19. Students have been consulted about how to improve their overall school experience. All members of the school community can speak to how these suggestions have been integrated and implemented (clubs, recess zones etc.). 
  20. Photos of students learning, connecting, caring for each other are featured prominently in all hallways. 

By Claire Snider

Passionate learner, leader, Self-Regger, athlete, friend, and wife. Mum to 4 amazing kids. Lightening the load of those around me so that we can walk each other home.

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