|While the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on social and emotional development in students is just starting to be understood, TBP’s focus social emotional learning (SEL) predates the pandemic and has led to new understandings and approaches.
One of these new approaches, the use of the Conscious Discipline model, is another application of TBP’s overall focus on SEL.
“Conscious Discipline is a trauma-informed approach to discipline,” Counseling & Family Engagement Coordinator Holly Vasquez said. “A Conscious Discipline training teaches an educator to look at the bad behavior in a different way. It prompts questions like: What is the cause of this behavior? Has the student been through a trauma which is making them act in this way? How can I de-escalate this issue and turn this situation into a positive?”
Due to daycare and school shutdowns, remote learning, being away from other children, and a general lack of routine during so much of the pandemic, teachers are seeing a more challenging adjustment period as students return to the classroom full-time this year.
“Students are now being put into the school atmosphere, sometimes for the first time,” Vasquez said. “Post-COVID, we want our staff to be aware of the trauma these kids may have experienced due to the pandemic.”
Research shows that a teacher having a strong relationship with a student drastically reduces discipline issues in the classroom. As a result, the Conscious Discipline approach focuses on creating a positive culture in both the classroom and for the school.
“We want our students to feel more connected to each other and to their teachers,” Vasquez said. “We want to go above and beyond the ‘come into class and do an assignment and go home.’ We’re looking to grow the whole child.”
To date, COVID-19 has disrupted three school year’s worth of learning and growth. The Conscious Discipline program is expect to uniquely benefit Pre-K through 2nd grade students due to what research and observations has indicated about the unique experiences faced by this age group due to the pandemic.
“It is important for this age group because it is setting up this year as their first experience with school,” Vasquez said. “There are some growing pains as a result. Job losses and other challenges meant a student’s home live may not have been stable recently. So, we are working on developing relationships with trustworthy adults while helping students learn the process of school, expectations, and rules.”
Parents can reinforce this same model of Conscious Discipline with their children at home.
“When a child is showing a certain behaviors, parents can start by asking about where the behavior is coming from, why is the child doing this kind of behavior, and how is it possible to make this a teachable moment?” Vasquez said. “In turn, that should help strengthen the relationship between a parent and their child.”
The Conscious Discipline program is slated for a full district-wide rollout in the second six weeks during October.