Berry Street Education Model in action

We recently asked schools to share their success stories in using BSEM strategies. We are excited to share these stories here.

Circles

It’s always good to start the day with a circle; a great way to check in and out, frame expectations for the day or session and nurture meaningful relationships within the community.

Denna Tye, teacher, explained, “At Naradhan Public School (NSW), we have implemented morning and afternoon circles to build on our predictable routines. It allows us to set the tone for the day, highlighting positives we’ve seen in the playground and then finish the day, by giving everyone the opportunity to reflect and share something they’ve enjoyed.”

Harmeet Bedi, teacher at East Preston Islamic College (VIC), shared, “We start with the morning circle chat, finding our centre and then some brain gym exercises. We then talk about topics like- what are we grateful for, what went well yesterday, how can we brighten our day if feeling low and our stories of resilience. During meditation I try to make them think of a place they would like to go, when all this is over [remote learning]. We have started planning special activities we would like to do when we are back to face-to-face teaching.”

We also heard from Trish Whitaker, teacher of Year 5/6 students. Her students wanted us to know:

  • “I like to come in and sit down every morning and know what’s on for today. It makes me feel great and ready for learning.”
  • “I like knowing what’s on for the day and the positive primer makes me feel green zone.”
  • “I like community circle because it feels like we all connect in a way.”
  • “I like community circle because it always gets me ready for learning and makes me connected with the class by doing a positive primer and working together.”

Steve Richard from Bolwarra Public School (NSW) shared, “Our kids and teachers love starting their day with a Morning Circle. Since the return to school from COVID, our students have loved the morning circle, it has assisted them to reconnect to their classmates and teachers, express their feelings and concerns in a safe manner and the positive primer leaves them energised and ready to learn. ”

You can see Bolwarra Public School’s Morning Circle in action in this video.

We just love seeing these predictable routines, the contextualised adaptations and the smiles on faces!

Priming with the Positive for Distance Learning

In recent times, virtual spaces have become crucial in maintaining connection and sharing much needed humour. Memes have taken on a new prominence in our virtual communities with some schools becoming quite creative in this space!

Arts and Digital Technology specialist teacher, Marnie Power at St. Gabriel’s Primary School (VIC), introduced memes to their middle and senior primary school students during isolation. “The responses from the children were amazing. They found humour, irony and joy in their situation and the project allowed them to consider art aspects of having only a single image to tell a story as well as learning new software. The project made light of our situation in a funny way and showed a maturity, understanding and positive outlook in our students during a particularly challenging time.”

bsem-blog-school-stories-memes

Safe Spaces

Time in virtual learning spaces has helped schools reflect on the emotional safety of classrooms and the range of strategies available to suit individual student needs.

Chantelle Papanikolaou, teacher at Whittlesea Secondary College (VIC), has embedded techniques such as De-escalation, Brain Breaks, Stamina Building, Mini Lessons and Reflections into their instructional model. Staff have begun to set up spaces within their classrooms to create safe spaces and break out areas.

Mapping Strengths, Needs and Strategies

Using the tools from BSEM has assisted schools to navigate tricky situations. This example from Jo Scott-Pegum at St Patrick’s Primary School in Bega (NSW) demonstrates the many collaborative and supportive ways schools are implementing their learning.

“At a staff meeting, we had a review of Body and Relationship. We used the attached proforma and worked with a colleague to find a strategy that would support a student in each class. We looked at unmet needs and possibilities to address these. A very worthwhile staff meeting.“

Growing Gratitude…

Finally, we love seeing how schools are using the strength of gratitude to support their learning environments and build connections to learning and each other. It is one of the most popular evidence-based positive education strategies. See how some schools are incorporating this strength.

bsem-blog-school-stories-gratitude

Claudia O’Neill from Boronia Heights Primary School (VIC), shared, “On return to school after a period of 8 weeks remote learning, we implement a daily gratitude journal in our morning routine with our Year 4 students.”

Juanita Foreman from Altona College (VIC) shared, “After doing Berry street training, I implemented a ‘What are you grateful for?’ start to each lesson. As a specialist teacher, my time with the students is limited, so asking the students to state what they are grateful for as I call each name out for the roll, takes very little extra time, and it also fosters a sense of community as the students hear and acknowledge what their colleagues are grateful for. Focussing on a positive aspect of our lives at the beginning of the lesson sets us up with a positive mood and switches our brains into the ‘I’m ready to learn’ mode.”

A BIG THANKS to all the amazing schools that share their work with us, keep sharing your stories so other teachers can be inspired to use strategies that benefit students in their schools.


Compiled by Michael Hardie, Senior Trainer, Berry Street Education Model

Follow us on Twitter at @BSEMaus

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