Written by Mary Marks Friday, 31 December 2010 00:00
Students and staff at the George A. Jackson Elementary School are hard at work promoting a peaceful environment. The goal at Jackson, under the coordination of teacher Milissa Seymour, is to teach all students and staff mindfulness and the skills necessary to model and practice social-emotional literacy. Each year, the goal is to increase student and staff awareness and expand their SEL (Social-Emotional Literacy) toolbox. The expected outcomes of these efforts are to decrease stress, promote peaceful conflict resolution and reduce bullying.
Every morning, several students are chosen to ring chimes and read the weekly quote. All students, building-wide, are encouraged to stop, breathe, and become mindful upon hearing the morning chimes. Every class in the building has been taught peaceful breathing and has an ongoing homework assignment to practice at home.
Grades K-2 are encouraged to use the SEL skills that they have been taught. There will be a new bulletin board in the K-2 wing, which will “grow” seasonally as the students demonstrate their skills and effort. In the fall, a tree will grow fall leaves. In the winter, a blue snowman will turn white, and in the spring, flowers will grow as the seeds of peace are planted. Each season, the students will receive fall leaves, snowflakes, or seeds when they are “caught” using their skills. The bulletin board will show the results of their efforts as the fall leaves pile, the snowflakes cover their snowman, and the flowers grow.
This year, third-grade students will receive a series of social-emotional literacy lessons. The lessons include specific skills such as active listening, “I” messages, and negotiation. These lessons will also integrate sensitivity training to differences and bully prevention.
Teacher Milissa Seymour will train a group of fourth-grade students, the Jackson Peer Trainers for Peace, to push-in to second-grade classrooms to peer-teach a specific SEL skill-set. The intention is for this program to grow each year, having fourth-graders peer-teach multiple lessons throughout the year to their younger students.
Jackson’s fifth-grade peer mediators will be pushing-in to first- and second-grade classes to explain and model the benefits of peer mediation. Milissa Seymour is the co-coordinator of peer mediation with Dr. Stacey Schwartz. Seymour recently presented the peer mediation training to the three elementary school peer mediation groups, and will be training the Jackson Peer Mediators to do the classroom push-ins.
The Jackson Peer Mediators and the Jackson Peer Trainers for Peace, known as the Jackson Team Players, will come together to present assemblies and push-ins in order to teach and encourage students to understand and utilize SEL skills and peer mediation as tools for peaceful conflict resolution.
Special area teachers actively support this peaceful theme as well. Art teacher Elissa Cosenza has done several peace projects with the students to support the Peacekeepers Program. Music teacher John Russo works with students on peace-themed songs. Milissa Seymour ordered SEL teacher resources that Martha Bertolini has included in the school library. Fifteen teachers/aides volunteered their time to be on a peacekeepers committee to further the building-wide efforts to promote the skills and themes of the peacekeeper program. The Jackson Team Players are working on an assembly to promote peer mediation and peaceful conflict resolution.