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SJCS Perspectives

Creating a Climate of Inclusion

March 7, 2018

At SJCS our staff continues to educate ourselves about how we can best serve the social emotional needs of each of our students and our goal to create a systematic, school-wide approach to inclusion. To support these efforts, we recently held two staff trainings with Tracy Flynn M.Ed. a professional equity and inclusion educator from Welcoming Schools during our faculty meetings.

Welcoming Schools, a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, is a comprehensive program that addresses embracing family diversity, avoiding gender stereotyping, and ending bullying and name-calling. Developed for pre-k and elementary age students, staff and families, it offers an LGBT-inclusive approach that addresses all diversity found in our communities. Our training focused on how SJCS staff can consistently use anti-bias language to support our students and how to create a climate that welcomes a range of identity – from gender to family structure to observance.  We also explored strategies help prevent bullying and interventions when bullying occurs.

Data continues to show that both children who are targeted and children who exhibit bullying behavior have lower academic achievement in school. (Joseph A. Drake et al. 2003, Journal of School Health.) However, research also demonstrates that students who experience acceptance at school are more highly motivated, engaged in learning and committed to school. (Karin Osterman 2000, Review of Educational Research.)

So how can SJCS effectively address bullying and created a positive school climate? Based on research, key strategies we employ include educator training and also:

  • establishing school wide rules and consequences for bullying,
  • classroom management, SJCS uses the Responsive Classroom approach school-wide
  • playground supervision,
  • cooperative group work

In our recent staff trainings, Tracy provided great examples of developmentally appropriate lesson plans for K-5 grades. These activities promote inclusion, help prevent bullying, and support the Responsive Classroom curriculum and teaching of Middot (Character Building Practices) that are already central to our school’s mission: to help students develop thoughtful inquiry, courageous and compassionate connection to others, and a strong sense of sense.

At SJCS we recognize that all staff need to prevent bias-based bullying and promote inclusion to truly embody our school values, particularly Dereh Eretz, (Citizenship) which is foundational to our building a safe, healthy, and supportive educational community.