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School of Belonging
Everything I do in schools focuses on the creation of a
school culture that facilitates caring and meaningful relationships,
emotional safety, and relevant learning. A School of Belonging is based on
the premise that every single interaction between adult and child in
school, helps to build safety and connection to the school community. It is
within our influence to monitor and manage those micro-interactions,
particularly in stressful and emotionally trying times.
A School of Belonging all people have a place and are honored for who they
are and what they can offer. Compassion is the key to bringing this norm to
a school community. One definition of compassion is …“the ability to be
exceptionally empathic, to appreciate and honor another person’s feelings
and point of view, and to be forgiving of yourself
and of others.” (Cooper.) Compassion is fueled by non-judgment with the
intention of helping all people feel as if they have a role to play in the
school and classroom.
key aspect of this research-based program will focus on how to effectively
teach social skills through group dialogue, moral dilemma discussion, class
meetings, fishbowl, common language, story telling
and processing. Teachers and other staff members will explore David’s
resources Teaching Empathy, A School
of Belonging Plan Book, and Building
Classroom Communities and will be trained in how to implement these
structure and specific social issues covered will be customized to meet the
current needs of each school. A needs assessment will be conducted by Mr.
Levine prior to his initial staff and student workshops through focus
groups, one to one conversations, and by reviewing current initiatives and
policies. An on-going assessment of program effectiveness will continue
throughout the School of Belonging process.
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Art McFarland ABC Eyewitness News, New York City