When I reached my daughter’s classroom a father was there peeking through the window on the door. We spied on the kids together until we were spotted by his son, and walked in to a lively game of freeze dance. The room was full of pure joy – even at the end of the day, when small children and busy teachers and rushing parents are certainly exhausted. And the moment lingered, no one wanting to break up the party.
Langley Elementary feels like a happy home.
So what is Langley doing so well?
Langley is emphasizing the health of the School Family.
I think the most compelling change is Langley’s adoption of a new philosophy and approach to teaching known as Conscious Discipline. Don’t let the word discipline shut you down – I’m not talking about, “go sit in the corner until you’re ready to apologize,” kind of deal. Conscious Discipline is all about teaching mindfulness and self-regulation to children and adults. There are calming breathing techniques, community-uniting rituals and safe places to go to de-stress. This new approach really deserves its own post – one is coming soon.
Langley is also working with an organization called Little Friends for Peace, which features in-school specials designed to interrupt the culture of violence that is so prevalent in our schools and society. By teaching empathy, anger management, conflict resolution and self-empowerment, Little Friends for Peace is helping students create a peaceful and collaborative community.
Have you ever considered this: When did you learn how to play? I know it’s strange to consider that safe, inclusive, active play is something that children must be taught. But when it’s not, free time on the playground can decline into boredom and bullying. Langley is partnering this year with Playworks, an organization that addresses this problem. Playworks provides an onsite recess coach who teaches kids playground games and shows them that it’s so much more fun to encourage than to tease and exclude classmates.
A huge part of strengthening the School Family is reaching out to the actual families of Langley students and inviting them to be a part of it. For parents who like to stay connected through social media, the Instagram accounts of school leaders and many teachers are a great resource. There they’ll find videos demonstrating the breathing techniques their kids are learning and the school songs students sing together. For parents who prefer to be there IRL, Langley is hosting family nights to help reinforce and extend the positive results of Conscious Discipline at home.
I know I’ll be there. What they’re doing is working for my girl, and I’ll take all the help I can get!
By Dawn Madura