HWDSB Foundation

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Thank you again to the HWDSB Foundation for supporting us this school year. Our students were able to benefit with a breakfast program, new sensory objects for our classroom for them to enjoy and explore to fit their needs, as well as prizes for our social skills bins to support our program. With their generous support we were able to provide even greater equity for our students, supporting their specialized emotional,physical, and behavioural needs as well as engage them in deeper more meaningful levels.

 

Week 5 Update

Week 5 in our Skillstreaming lessons, we focused our attention on Expressing Your Feelings and Using Self- Control. With Expressing Your Feelings students continued to add more words to their vocabulary to inform others of their feelings. They also continued to express what choices they had when they felt a negative feeling and continued to work on making the best choice. The skill Using Self-Control requires students to learn to count to 10 and to clearly identify what feeling they were experiencing when they were angry. It also requires them to make an appropriate choice (i.e., walk away, relaxation exercise, write about how their were feeling, or tell someone) instead of reacting impulsively.

In Talking Peace, we discussed the final step in Restorative Justice “Think About Next Time”. We practiced solving problems and finding solutions to avoid a re-occurrence of the problem.

In Seeing Red, we focused our energy towards “Stress Lessons” which are lessons that create teachable moments to introduce stress management strategies and build emotional resiliency. We introduced the concept of intensive deep breathing and introduced yoga as methods of stress/anxiety and anger reducers to the students. We practiced these skills on yoga mats for several days!

 

Week 4 Update

This week on Thursday we had our parent/caring adult Open House.

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Student’s role played sincere apologies to their guests. They also tested their parents “following instructions” abilities with a little test that they had themselves earlier in the program completed with mixed results! We ended the morning with a Seeing Red craft, a calming object that they created with help from their parents. This object is a visual reminder of an activity or thing that helps the student deescalate when becoming emotional.

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 During our Skillstreaming lessons this week, we focused on Apologizing and Knowing Your Feelings.

In Apologizing, we learned there are four steps to a sincere apology and we practiced those steps both during lessons while role-playing and in real life situations.

During Knowing Your Feelings, we learned a whole new vocabulary of words to describe how we felt beyond “sad or mad”. Student’s role-played new and different feelings and were encouraged in class to use make use of these new words when expressing what feelings they were feeling (this is to make way for next weeks skills). They also were asked to think about how those feelings might occur, and how other feelings they may have might get “covered” up by anger, when they are actually feeling something else. We focused our attention on naming specific feelings more accurately to help identify a solution.

In Talking Peace, we looked at Step 4 “Identifying the Effect on Others”. Students began to realize that not only are they affected when a problem arises but they were asked to look at how their actions affect others around them.

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Many people’s feelings can be hurt (i.e., not just theirs) and require a justice circle. To further explore this we played a game called “In and Out of the Circle”. This game explored some of the students being invited into a circle and some of the time where there were not and had to explore those feeling and identify how that felt being excluded (how the other side felt).

In Seeing Red, students examined the idea of “Keeping Your Personal Power”.

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Students learned about not allowing others to have power over their reactions. Sometimes another person might be looking to see how far they can “push” you until you react. We practiced strategies to help the students cope with this type of situation. Students listed their top 5 positive strategies that they can use at home and school to deal with those situations.

Week 3 Update

We are at the halfway point! Wow, time sure does fly. Students have already learned half of their skills and are actively using them. We have begun to notice an overall positive change in student behaviour and conflict resolution.

We had our Home School Visits on Thursday, which went great! On Friday the boys had earned their very own Halloween Party in the afternoon with some treats and Hotel Transylvania.

This week in Skillstreaming, we learned about Beginning a Conversation and Joining In. These two skills are great to combine because they teach us the right time to start a conversation and how to join in on one using a friendly voice. Keeping a conversation going can not only be challenging for us but also knowing how to begin one also be hard. Sometimes it is also challenging to know when is the best time to ask other friends or “new” friends to join in on something that interests us in a way that doesn’t upset other people. We role-modeled ways to join groups that didn’t upset the people and ways that did to understand the difference. We also practiced beginning conversation with each other and broke down the steps in class to learn how to start a proper conversation politely.

In Talking Peace, we learned Step 3 called “Owning our Actions”, and taking responsibility for what we did. Owning our actions is not meant to punish anyone, but it is meant to let everyone who was involved to say what their part was in the problem and to work towards a solution so everyone feels better. The three major questions we asked ourselves during this week with step 3 were:

  1. What actions made the problem?
  2. Who is responsible for the harm?
  3. How can the person responsible make things better?

In our Seeing Red program, we focused on Internal Anger Warning Signs (head pounding, wanting to run away, etc.) and how those affect our actions. We also drew out our anger while we discussed where we felt it in our body which each other and any experiences we were brave enough to share with the class. A new game we were introduced to was “Guess the Feeling” we really liked this game. We had cards facing down on the peace table that we flipped over and showed no one but ourselves. We have to act out the feelings until the other boys were able to guess the feeling. We are going to play the game every week because we liked it so much! After the game ended some of us discussed how those feelings related to a time at school or home and how it made us feel.

Week 2 Update

This week in Skillstreaming we focused on two new skills! These were Ignoring Distractions (i.e., Count to 5, don’t look, continue to work, and self talk) and Setting a Goal (i.e., Decide on a goal, decide on the steps, take the first step, take all other steps and reward yourself when the goal is reached). Ignoring a distraction can be a particularly tough skill to learn so we did plenty of around table discussion about this skill to really understand how it can impact our emotions and potentially lead us astray (e.g., office, phone call home etc).

In Talking Peace, we discussed Invite and Involve, where we thought about who needs to be invited to solve a problem. We looked at possible solutions to problems and how the same solution may not work in every situation. We had the chance to create our own situations and present them to the class and talk about Step 1 from last week and also Invite and Involve from this week. When we create these situation we first act out the wrong way then act out the right way using out new Steps that we have learned and the class helps us in answering how the situation is different.

In Seeing Red, we focused on what our anger looks like on the outside, and how our bodies feel when we are angry. We discussed 5 new steps to controlling our anger and begun to play some circle games that required us to think independently on situations and how we would respond to them.

This Thursday we will be visiting our Home Schools and presenting to our classes on some of our skills we have learned. We are very excited about this!

Week 1 Done…. Welcome Week 2!

We have successfully completed Week One of our program!

During this week, we discussed, modeled and practiced two specific skills in our Skillstreaming program. We focused on Listening and Following Instructions. Students were taught the five steps to demonstrate listening and the four steps to following instructions. Students practiced this skill with one another (e.g., role modeling) and also then showed it to the class (what not to do). On Friday we presented it by ourselves to the class (this is to help us when we go back on October 30th and demonstrate our skills to our classmates).

Students began earning tickets the first day! This goes with our classroom economy system (Character Cash). Each time a staff member “catches” students displaying one of the multiple skills that are taught over the following weeks they are rewarded. This system they can cash out on Fridays towards prizes. There are also other incentive programs in place in the classroom (e.g., iListen) in which the class must work as a team to reach a certain number of points for a super prize (movie and popcorn).

In Talking Peace, we focused on the first step in the Restorative Justice process- the Hurt Alert (People Injuries, Their Feelings, and Things Damaged). Students were provided with multiple opportunities to observe a situation and to describe who had been hurt and who or what needed immediate attention first (i.e. how people are feeling, what needs to be discussed, what has been damaged, and what can be done about it). We also began to use the Hurt Alert if any issues arose in class.

In our Seeing Red program, we introduced Feeling Cards, which can assist the students when they are too upset to verbally identify their emotion they can point to it. We also discussed reasons we get angry; ways people can react when they are angry, what we do when we get mad and what our own personal “triggers” are. We also started learning about “ Give Me 5” which is a strategy the students will be using throughout the program when they are upset to  assist them in cooling down. Here is an example of it below for your viewing pleasure!

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