“As a new faculty member, staff week was a great way to meet new people and gather a lot of information in a short period of time,” said Sixth Grade Teacher Lynsey Plume.
“The beginning of a school year is an exciting time filled with creativity, optimism, and energy,” said Principal Matt Poynter, who led the staff week program planning. “It is a good time to be reminded of the philosophical underpinnings of our work and of the nature of our mission.”
A majority of the training focused on three important student outcomes that encompass the work we do at Stanbridge:
- we want our students to develop a positive self concept;
- we want our students to maximize their capacity for self-regulation; and
- we want our students to maximize their academic competence.
“Our strengths, talents, and special interests inform our self-concept,” said Matt. “Seeing our students through that lens gives us insight into how to engage them, how to make them feel respected and valued, and even how to mitigate their challenges.”
In addition to considering the implications of seeing students and colleagues from a strength-based perspective, the staff spent considerable time thinking and learning about self-regulation and how it relates to sensory processing (SP).
“The $16k Stanbridge raised during Silicon Valley Gives 2016 was earmarked to enhance our support of students needing occupational therapy and sensory integration,” said Head of School, Julie Smith. “Based on input from faculty and parents, we engaged an occupational therapist to provide a series of workshops with our teachers during our in-service week.”
Cassie Eveans, an occupational therapist with Firefly Center who is familiar with the Stanbridge program, held a general session on SP with the entire faculty and staff followed by two breakout sessions—one for elementary and junior high teachers and another for high school teacher.
“It is important to consider the demands and expectations of students as they progress through to higher grade levels,” said Firefly Center Assistant Director Holly Restrani. “Younger students may have more movement activities throughout their school days, while also having to contend with more visual and auditory stimulation in the background during formal instruction (e.g. peers fidgeting on the carpet during circle time). Older students are often expected to sit for long periods of time, copy extensive notes from the board or from verbal lecture, and align mathematical equations.”
Following the workshops, teachers were able to request certain tools—from noise-cancelling headphones to wiggle seats and fidgets—to help students maximize their learning potential in class.
“There are many ways that classroom teachers are already including this knowledge in their daily teaching, and we know that this provides additional support for our students,” said Julie.
“All of our students learn in a slightly different way, and it is important for us to provide tools and materials that will elicit the best results from them. A standing desk allows students that need to move a bit more than others an opportunity to do so without causing a disruption to their peers,” said High School Teacher John Barnett, who currently has such a desk in his classroom. “It is my hope that I can have the standing desk in my class for a little bit and see how it goes. If it is a success, then we can discuss the possibility of getting additional seating options in other classrooms.”
All of these tools lay the groundwork for the core of the Stanbridge program: the classroom experience.
“Staff Week gives us a chance to put thoughtful systems, schedules, and routines in place, and provides the foundation for a year of curriculum enrichment, discipline-specific training, and professional development,” said Matt.
“The positivity of the staff this week has been reassuring and makes me excited to start the new year,” said Speech and Language Pathologist Kari Schaiman.