While the students enjoyed one last day off, the faculty and staff returned to school on Monday for a full day of professional development on three of the four pillars we’ve been focusing on this year. In the morning, two SFS parents, Bridget Morgan and Bridget Dewson, led sessions on mindfulness and restorative practices/positive discipline, respectively. 

Bridget Morgan has a master’s degree in social work, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is a former independent school counselor. She focused on restorative practices in the form of positive discipline. Discipline in schools can take many forms; at St. Francis, our desired approach has always been more of a problem-solving approach to discipline rather than focusing on punishment and consequences. As such, it was refreshing to hear Bridget’s presentation, which reinforced this to the nth degree. This quote was at the center of her talk:

“A student’s primary goal is to experience belonging and significance.” 

Discipline that involves shaming and negativity certainly doesn’t promote significance or belonging to a community. There were many wonderful takeaways from Bridget’s presentation, but here are some of the main points:

  • Discipline should be kind and firm at the same time.
  • It should be focused on the long term rather than stopping a behavior temporarily.
  • It should also teach valuable social and life skills that build character.
  • Giving students a choice of corrective actions is far better than mandating a punishment.
  • Lecturing students (especially at the Middle and High School levels) rarely works. Asking students questions instead and helping them to sort out why a situation went awry is far more effective.
  • Kind and firm leaders teach that mistakes are an opportunity to learn.

Bridget’s excellent presentation reinforced the approach we want to take at St. Francis and provided some ideas and strategies for putting philosophy into action.  

Certified yoga and mindfulness instructor Bridget Dewson presented strategies teachers can use in their classrooms each day that promote mental wellness. Mindfulness teaches us to be present and in the moment, to put our distractions aside and focus on the here and now. Teachers practiced techniques that we can implement to help students connect with one another, reduce stress, and focus, from simple quick breathing exercises to guided meditations. The Preschool faculty spent additional time with Bridget learning yoga poses, focused breathing techniques, and mindful listening/walking/eating exercises. Beginning the new year by being present in the moment is a goal we strive for as educators each year. 

A big thank-you to Bridget and Bridget for sharing their expertise with us! 

In the afternoon, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinators Lindsy Serrano and Brett Paice spent some time sharing LGBTQ+ resources, including terminology, books for all ages, and more. They also discussed the “cancel culture” endemic to society now, meaning that when someone makes a mistake, the person is essentially “canceled” by others from social media, friend groups, etc. At SFS, we’re making a concerted effort to help our students have difficult conversations and be tolerant of one another in all aspects.

All in all, Monday provided myriad thoughts and strategies that teachers at all levels, Preschool through High School, can use effectively in their classrooms. What a fantastic start to 2020!