The Demonstrated Success team has learned much at Ledge Street School this year. Ledge Street Elementary School of Nashua, N.H. has implemented a new initiative called Soaring for Success. The goal of this new initiative is to support individual growth in a safe learning environment through the creation of high academic and social expectations.
The core values that have been implemented through Soaring for Success are “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Kind, and Be a Learner.” Each value is then broken up into specific behavioral expectations for both students and staff in each of the school’s spaces (i.e. in the classroom, in the hallway, in the cafeteria, during assemblies, during arrival and dismissal, etc.). During the first two weeks of the 2019 school year, the teachers of Ledge Street Elementary School were expected to deliver lessons that involved modeling and role-playing appropriate behavior to be applied to the different spaces of the school.
Ledge Street Elementary School has aided this learning process through the creation of ‘Learning Commons’, the ‘Chill Zone’, and break areas. The ‘Chill Zone’ in the principal’s office, as well as break areas in the classrooms offer students various fidget tools and calming visuals.
School-wide expectations for being a learner state that students ask to take a break when needed. Then, when given permission, students are expected to make their way to the break area and start a timer themselves. This particular expectation was implemented to keep a calm and welcoming environment where students can express their feelings in a positive and non-destructive way.
Using learning commons in the principal’s office and school classrooms is becoming a common trend in response to emerging research regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs). Per Tom Berger, a writer for edutopia.org, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ACEs is defined as experiencing or witnessing violence or abuse before the age of 18. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that “more than 35 percent of children have experienced two or more ACEs.” Tom Berger’s article states that break areas are crucial in helping students to calm down and they teach students to self-regulate. Ledge Street Elementary School’s Soaring for Success initiative provides teachers with a detailed plan of how to help students develop their self-regulation. According to Tom Berger, the instruction of self-regulation is crucial because “the ability to regulate emotions is a key social and emotional skill, and students need specific guidance to develop it.”
‘Learning Commons’ have become a national trend as a way to boost classroom morale and productivity, while also meeting students’ differing needs. Other teachers,, according to articles posted to edweek.org, have found ‘Learning Commons’ (also known as flexible seating) to be very influential on classroom morale. Two years ago, Alycia Eschler, a contributing blogger for edweek.org, had done extensive research on flexible seating. Alycia “discovered that flexible seating is linked to improved behavior” among students because it allows them to “collaborate and create”. Edweek.org writer Larry Ferlazzo asked other instructors their thoughts on flexible seating and found that “the best classroom seating puts students in charge of their space” and gives them the power to choose what the most comfortable seating arrangement is for them. Follow these links to learn more about ACE’s, break areas, and flexible seating:
Our DS team is appreciative of all that the staff at Ledge has done to support their students. We are happy to help you take similar steps to support the social emotional needs of students. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about administering school climate surveys, and professional development around influencing student behavior in your school.