Creating Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments

A guide for school leaders:

Creating Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments: A Process Guide for School Leaders

Research on school improvement and brain development, shows a direct correlation between a positive school culture and academic achievement. Evidence also shows that welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments result in increased attendance and reduced rates of bullying and early school leaving.

To improve outcomes for students, in addition to ensuring quality teaching and leadership, we must be intentional about creating welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments. Read More...

This guide was designed to assist school leaders with learning about welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments and provide them with a process for engaging with school community members—students, families, staff and community partners—to work collectively toward creating, enhancing and maintaining such an environment.

Click here to download and read Creating Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments: A Process Guide for School Leaders…

Tools:

Research: An Environmental Scan of ‘Safe and Caring’ Practices, Programs and Policies in Alberta

Parents, schools and communities agree that helping children and youth engage in and maintain healthy relationships is an important and common concern. As social learning environments, schools are ideally positioned to help build these skills and relationships. However, schools face many challenges within the current landscape, including competing pressures to promote both academic and social outcomes, fragmented and uncoordinated programming, and lack of resources.

Recognizing the need for an enhanced and coordinated collective effort to encourage healthy relationships and foster safe and caring learning environments, Safe and Caring has conducted an environmental scan and stakeholder consultation to identify existing programs and supports and better understand the needs of educators, schools and school systems in Alberta regarding healthy relationships and bullying prevention. These findings reflect the current state of safe and caring practices, programs and policies across Alberta. Read More...

This report identifies findings, including the strengths and gaps in the current environment, as well as recommended next steps for Safe and Caring and our partners. We will be using this report to shape our upcoming strategic directions and initiatives.

 

Research: An Environmental Scan of “Safe and Caring” in Alberta – Key Findings

Key findings from our June 2015 report.

 

Research: An Environmental Scan of ‘Safe and Caring’ in Alberta – Final Report

Final report from the environmental scan and stakeholder analysis, including recommendations and next steps.

Toolkit: School Diversity Policy

By encouraging respectful attitudes and behaviours among young people, a school can prevent racism, discrimination, harassment, bullying and other kinds of aggression—the result being a safe and caring learning environment for all. Read More...

By encouraging respectful attitudes and behaviours among young people, a school can prevent racism, discrimination, harassment, bullying and other kinds of aggression—the result being a safe and caring learning environment for all. Safe and Caring has partnered with the Alberta Teachers’ Association to develop this resource to guide policy makers, advocates, and educational leaders, both at the school and school board levels, though the challenge of setting educational policy for dealing with diversity issues.

Click here to download and read the School Diversity Policy Toolkit

 

Toolkit: Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to manage your own energy states, emotions, behaviours and attention, in ways that are socially acceptable and help achieve positive goals such as learning, maintaining good relationships, and achieving well-being. Teaching kids to self-regulate has a positive impact on their academic and social outcomes. Read More...

Safe and Caring has partnered with Dr. Stuart Shanker and The MEHRIT Centre to develop and share a series of tip sheets, handouts and other resources on self-regulation.

What You Need to Know: Self-Regulation, A Parent’s Guide

This resource provides an overview of how parents can identify stress reactions in their child and use self-regulation practice to better support their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.

 

What You Need to Know: Self-Regulation, The Early Years

This resource provides an overview of how to support the self-regulation of children in their early years, including how caregivers can identify stress reactions in their young child and use self-regulation practice to better support their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.

 

What You Need to Know: Self-Regulation, Science Backgrounder

This resource provides an overview the neuroscience behind self-regulation practice and techniques.

 

What You Need to Know: Self-Regulation, The Impact of Trauma

Traumatic events can have a lasting impact on children’s lives. Understanding why and how trauma affects the brain can help children overcome these effects and have a full and rewarding life. This tip sheet provides a starting point for teachers, service providers, parents or other caregivers to better understand trauma-related behaviour and being to respond to the self-regulation needs of children recovering from trauma.

 

Model: 5 Domains of Self-Regulation

These 5 domains, as outlined in Dr. Shanker’s research, represent the interconnected areas with which stress reactions, and calming techniques, interact.

 

Model: Arousal Regulation Cycle

Arousal regulation relies on constant feedback between the 5 domains of self-reg. This image provides a visual example.

 

Model: 5 Steps of Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is not a packaged program. Rather, it is a learning process, through which we can learn to better manage our own stress reactions. This model demonstrates the five steps you can learn to do routinely for yourself in the moment to return to a calm state of mind.

 

Viewpoints: Expanding Our Understanding of the Meaning of Safe

Written by Dr. Stuart Shanker, CEO of The MEHRIT Centre and Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, York University. This article originally appeared in our November News Bulletin.

 

Viewpoints: Laying the Foundation for Self-Regulation

Written by Dr. Stuart Shanker, CEO of The MEHRIT Centre and Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, York University. This article originally appeared in our March and June News Bulletin.

Toolkit: Creating Safe Spaces Resources

Safe Spaces is a joint initiative of the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) and the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities. The Safe Spaces initiative focuses on three critical areas necessary to address discrimination and prejudice in schools: respecting human rights, respecting individuals and taking personal responsibility. Read More...

Safe Spaces Poster (English | French)

If you are interested in ordering hard copies of the poster to share in your own school or community, you can contact Odette Ingabire, Bilingual Secretary for Professional Development, Alberta Teachers Association at Odette.Ingabire@ata.ab.ca.

 

Safe Spaces Sticker (English French)

If you are interested in ordering a hard copy of the sticker to post in your own school or community, you can contact Odette Ingabire, Bilingual Secretary for Professional Development, Alberta Teachers Association at Odette.Ingabire@ata.ab.ca.

Safe Spaces Sticker English - web

 

Safe Spaces Brochure

If you are interested in ordering hard copies of the brochure to share in your own school or community, you can contact Odette Ingabire, Bilingual Secretary for Professional Development, Alberta Teachers Association at Odette.Ingabire@ata.ab.ca.

Toolkit: Understanding Alberta’s School Act

Revisions to the School Act as part of Bill 10 (in force June 1, 2015) set out responsibilities for all partners in the education system, including students, parents and school boards. All partners have a responsibility to do their part to ensure welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments.

To help all partners understand and implement these responsibilities, the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities partnered with ASBA to develop a toolkit that includes support for all stakeholders.

The Government of Alberta provided funding for this initiative.

UPDATE: Safe and Caring is continually accepting feedback on these resources from educators, administrators and policy makers. Please feel free to forward comments or requests for future resources. Posted are the most recent and up-to-date versions of these documents. Read More...

Tip Sheet: Alberta’s School ActInformation for Students 

This document outlines the responsibilities of students under the revised School Act, in force June 1, 2015.

 

Tip Sheet: Alberta’s School ActInformation for Parents and Guardians

This document outlines the responsibilities of parents and guardians under the revised School Act, as well as those of school boards as they relate to parents.

 

Tip Sheet: Alberta’s School ActInformation for School Staff 

This document outlines the responsibilities of teachers, school administrators and other staff under the revised School Act, as well as those of students and parents as they relate to school staff.

 

Tip Sheet: Alberta’s School ActDeveloping an Effective Code of Conduct

This document is intended to assist school boards in developing student codes of conduct in accordance with the revised School Act, including provisions for ensuring that school codes of conduct foster a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment.

 

Webinar: Writing a Student Conduct Policy

This instructional video walks school boards and administrators through the process of developing a code of conduct that is effective and in alignment with the revised School Act and upcoming new Education Act.

 

Discussion Guide: Collaborating to create a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging 

This document is a discussion guide for talking to your community about creating welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools and communities, including engagement tools and conversation starters for facilitating a discussion of the Education Act and related responsibilities for school and community leaders.

Toolkit: Supporting Child and Youth Mental Health

Good mental health isn't just about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a perfect life. It’s about living well and having the tools for coping with difficult situations even during life’s challenges. This toolkit includes resources to help adults and youth alike find ways to cultivate positive mental health. Read More...

Tip Sheet: Keys to Mental Wellness and Happiness, from one student to another…

Written by University of Alberta student Timurlane Cakmak for other youth and students. Follow this guide as a first step towards taking charge of your own happiness. Remember: Even the tiniest actions can lead to big changes – every bit counts!

 

Tip Sheet: 8 Things Adults Can Do to Support Children’s Mental Health

This tip sheet was developed to give teachers, parents and other child and youth advocates practical advice to supporting positive mental health outcomes in children and youth.

Toolkit: Supporting LGBTQ Children and Youth

Building a safe, caring and inclusive culture where LGBTQ children, youth, teachers and parents feel welcome starts from the inside. This toolkit includes resources to help adults and youth alike find ways to cultivate a true culture of caring. Read More...

Tip Sheet: 7 Things Adults Can Do To Support LGBTQ Youth

As an individual, family member, community member, educator or professional, you have power to make positive changes. Think big and make small changes to start a culture of caring!

 

Tip Sheet: 6 Things You Can Do To Be An LGBTQ+ Ally

This Tip sheet is aimed at youth.

Wanting to be an ally to your LGBTQ+ friends or classmates is a good first step in supporting them. With the
right tools and determination, you have the power to make positive changes for the people in your community. Think big and make small changes to start a culture of caring!

 

10 Steps to Creating a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in Your School

Written by Dr. Kris Wells, reprinted with permission by SOS Safety Magazine.

 

Toolkit: Supporting Social Emotional Learning

There are many approaches schools can take to create more welcoming, safe, caring and respectful
learning environments. The documents in this toolkit can help educators, parents and other caregivers to identify the best literature, events, school materials and school-based programs to help children and youth cultivate social emotional skills and better understand life experiences.

These resources were created in partnership with WITS Programs. Read More...

Choosing Literature to Support Social Emotional Learning

This tip sheet provides tips on selecting good literature to use in classroom instruction.

 

Choosing One-Time Events to Support a Comprehensive Approach

This tip sheet provides tips on selecting effective events to use in support of classroom instruction.

 

Choosing Student Materials to Support Social Emotional Learning

As part of a comprehensive approach to support social and emotional development, schools may sometimes need student resources. This tip sheet provides advice on selecting effective student materials to use in classroom instruction.

 

Choosing School-Based Programming Interventions

To create and support student social, emotional and mental health, schools may implement a school-wide instructional intervention program. There are a number of programs available, ranging from single workshops to more in-depth, multi-year initiatives. Some have a strong evidence base; however, many do not. Use this checklist to determine what school-based program or intervention would best support your school community.

For an example of how to complete this checklist, check out the WITS Example below!

Choosing School-Based Programming Interventions: A WITS Example 

 

Five Simple Steps for Evaluating School-Based Programming Interventions

This document guides educators through the process of evaluating the impact of school-based programs and interventions.