Nov. 17, 2014
At the heart of Harold Panabaker School lies a desire for everyone to practice empathy; the ability to know and understand others.
This year, staff at the school decided to focus on creating a community where everyone feels connected. They recognized that students who know each other are less likely to pick on one another, and they are also more likely to stand up for each other when incidents do occur. But the staff also recognized that it is not enough to only have students knowing students – students also need to feel connected to the teachers and staff at the school.
Recognizing the need to create the conditions for connection, the staff went to work to create a plan. The result was a team building approach, where students were given opportunities to build teams with students in different grades. Team building activities ranged from trust exercises to problem-solving. This strategy, accompanied by anti-bullying days, is already starting to create a shift in students’ thinking.
Teachers note that Grade 7 students are gaining confidence and that the older students are looking out for their younger friends. Many teachers have also observed that students are opening up to them more frequently. The result is a welcoming school community that intentionally invites students to open up, and get to know each other. This school community recognizes that whether you’re a shy Grade 7, or a bold Grade 9, at the core, we’re not all that different.
Click on the videos at the right to learn more about this school’s approach to creating a safe and caring community.