Austin Discovery School Proactive Social Emotional Program
Austin Discovery School supports the whole child using research based social emotional practices. The ADS mission clearly
states that we are developing socially and emotionally aware, confident, critical-thinkers and problem-solvers through interactive,
hands-on lessons and relevant project-based learning. Social Emotional Learning is a core value at ADS.
At Austin Discovery School, we use Conscious Discipline, Positive Behavior Systems/Interventions and Restorative Practices to help our students navigate social emotional learning. These practices allow us to create a safe, caring, and learning environment for all. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students. PBIS IS NOT a packaged curriculum, scripted intervention, or manualized strategy. PBIS IS a prevention-oriented way for school personnel to (a) organize evidence-based practices, (b) improve their implementation of those practices, and (c) maximize academic and social behavior outcomes for students. PBIS supports the success of ALL students. Conscious Discipline helps to create a school family with routines, meaningful classroom jobs, safe place, and equator to work at conflicts, and specific strategies for calming and working out peer conflicts. TRIBES and Drama Based Instruction offer lesson plans and cooperative games to further build our school family. These activities help us to work collaboratively and cooperatively in small groups (tribes) or as a whole classroom. Restorative Practices provide the framework for meaningful circles in the classroom as well as providing a space for restitution and accountability. All of these programs/philosophies work together to create social emotional learning experiences for each classroom.
Conscious Discipline (created by Dr. Becky Bailey) helps to create the school family with routines, meaningful classroom jobs, a safe place, and specific strategies for reducing stress and working out peer conflicts. The program is based on teaching skills instead of punishing children, and in large part, requires that the acting adult be conscious of his or her actions and reasons for reactions and in turn model and teach the child the same. Through Conscious Discipline and Restorative Practices, we teach resolution and believe that a problem is an opportunity to teach. We also believe that a child may need help or guidance in navigating the situation they are in. We believe in teaching, and helping children actively practice skills as conflicts emerge. This does not, however, mean that our social emotional program does not provide consequences. When consequences are needed, our first step is to impose consequences that are meaningful and logically related to the situation (You knocked over the paint because you were running, you may clean it up). Many daily issues can be resolved in this way. These incidents may or may not be reported to parents if they are truly minor and age appropriate.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is way we have developed a framework at Austin Discovery School to help govern student behavior in the whole areas on campus. PBIS also provides a framework for Response to Intervention (RTI) when it comes to looking at student behavior at a Tier 1, 2, and 3 support level. All rules and guidance come through our belief system that we want to create students who are safe, respectful and responsible. You will see signs around campus that show our acronym ADS:
D= Do it with Respect
S=Safety is Everybody’s Job
TRIBES and Drama Based Instruction offer lesson plans and cooperative games to further build our school family. These activities help us to work collaboratively and cooperatively in small groups (tribes) or as a whole classroom. Four agreements are honored:
Restorative Practices provide the framework for meaningful circles in the classroom as well as providing a space for restitution and accountability. All of these programs/philosophies work together in tandem to create the social/emotional program at Austin Discovery School. In more serious situations regarding serious disruption to the learning environment or physical harm, the student may be referred to the Social Emotional Program Director, who will work with the teacher and student to resolve the situation through the use of Restorative Practices.
What are Restorative Practices?
Restorative justice (restorative practices/discipline in school settings) is a philosophy as well as a set of practices that helps us know how to respond to problems as they arise. Restorative discipline also helps create school communities where problems are less likely to arise in the first place and less likely to be repeated when they do happen.
Restorative Practices is looking at student behavior with a different lens. Instead of looking at what rule was broken, restorative practices look at what harm was caused to the relationship and what needs to happen to repair the harm? In Restorative Practices, the primary focus is on the relationships between students, teachers, families, and whole community instead of just a rule violation. Restorative Practices focus on accountability, community, and skill development.
There are a series of questions asked to help guide the process:
To help those who harmed by another’s actions:
PEACE Centers supporting classrooms and students
Our Peace Centers are located in throughout our campus. There are two peace centers in the K/2 tree houses, one in the 3rd/4th grade tree house, and one in the middle school tree house. The peace centers are supported by behavior interventionists, social work interns, middle school social worker, and the Social Emotional Program Director as needed.
This is a space where students may come for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons may be:
The Peace Centers are a general education support but are open to all students. To access the peace center, each student will come with a member of the SEL team. Peace centers are a place for both students and teachers to feel supported. Peace centers are not a consequence or a threat. We want students to thrive in their classroom environments so coming to the peace center is seen as an extension to the classroom not as a way to exclude a student from their classroom community. We are partners working together to help the student feel a part of their classroom community.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the think tank behind the movement of Social Emotional Learning. They have come up with a wonderful definition and five competencies.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful.
Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker; and many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students' social and emotional skills. This is best done through effective classroom instruction; student engagement in positive activities in and out of the classroom; and broad parent and community involvement in program planning, implementation and evaluation.
Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism. Explicit skills taught: Labeling one’s feelings, Relating feelings and thoughts to behavior, Accurate self-assessment of strengths and challenges, Self-efficacy, Optimism.
At Austin Discovery School, we provide this in the classroom by using Conscious Discipline and Restorative Practices to help students learn to identify their feelings and use affective statements such as using “I” statements to express their feelings and teaching the explicit skills to become self-aware.
Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals. Explicit skills taught: Regulating one’s emotions, Managing stress, Self-control, Self-motivation, Stress management, Setting and achieving goals.
At ADS, we use Conscious Discipline techniques in the classroom to help students to effectively solve their own problems with their peers. We provide a safe place in the classroom for students to regulate their own emotions. With Restorative Practices, we guide students through a list of questions to help them to identify thoughts and problem solve coming up with a plan of action. We also teach explicit skills for students to learn to manage their own behavior/emotional state.
Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. Explicit skills taught: Perspective taking, Empathy, Respecting diversity, Understanding social and ethical norms of behavior, Recognizing family, school, and community supports.
In our classrooms at ADS, we define and teach school wide norms such as Act Responsibly, Do it with Respect, and Safety is Everyone’s Job developed through our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). We create Respect Agreements as a classroom community and work to create a Classroom Family with Conscious Discipline and Restorative Practices. We have a Peace Center for students to learn social skills, regulate emotions and energy, and to solve conflicts with peers/adults.
Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed. Explicit skills taught: Building relationships with diverse individuals and groups, Communicating clearly, Working cooperatively, Resolving Conflicts, and Seeking help.
In our classrooms at ADS, we build relationships and connections with students using Conscious Discipline techniques to create a School Family. We use TRIBES and Drama Based Instruction to help build our classroom community using cooperative games and lesson plans. We use Restorative Practices by using circles to create community and responsive circles to problem solve conflicts.
Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others. Explicit skills taught: Considering the well-being of self and others, Recognizing one’s responsibility to behave ethically, Basing decisions on safety, social, and ethical considerations, Evaluating realistic consequences of various actions, and Make constructive, safe choices for self, relationships, and school.
In our classrooms at ADS, all of our explicit skills and curriculum comes together to help the student to become an invested member of the community so that the student is safe, responsible, and respectful to all.