Paideia Academies delivers a compassion-centric educational paradigm that focuses on building healthy relationships. By leading with compassion, we find solutions that are not punitive in nature but instead teach behaviors of peace. The following classroom practices are implemented in every Paideia classroom daily to build compassionate communities of high trust:
Paideia Academies Community of schools utilizes restorative framework practices with the intention to build a community that responds to challenging behavior through authentic dialogue, coming to understanding, and making things right.
Restorative thinking is a significant shift from punishment-oriented thinking. People, including students, who are invited into restorative dialogue are sometimes confused by the concept of “making things right.” The default response to the question “What can we do to make things right?” often has to do with punishment. The saying, “children live what they learn” applies here. When what they have learned is that troublesome behavior demands a punishment-oriented response, that is how they will live. Restorative practices invite different ways of responding. These new ways are learned and enculturated through consistent experience. The activities in “Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School Community” give Paideia students the necessary experiences to support a shift toward restorative ways of thinking and behaving.
Mindfulness and Meditation is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
The positive benefits of teaching mindfulness have been proven across a number of studies. Incorporating mindfulness into everyday classroom activity is a normal part of the Paideia day. A five or ten-minute daily mindfulness practice can see students reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration and engagement, sleep better, improve social skills, and develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. All teachers are required to learn and incorporate mindfulness into their day.
When I was 18, my mother gave me great counsel as I left for military training. Among many other things (return with honor was her favorite thing to say), she told me to fill my mind with good thoughts, to memorize, study and seek to live by the sayings of wise men and women and those thoughts would guide me in life. At the age of 19, I was able to take 2 years away from military service to serve a religious mission for my church. I committed myself to live up to my mother’s counsel. I began seeking out sayings and quotes that touched my heart and motivated my soul. There was no internet and my search was through constant vigilance. I carried a small stack of blank 3x5 cards and two or three quotes that I was memorizing in my shirt pocket. Every time I came across a quote, I stopped and wrote it down. I wrote down everything whether it touched my soul or not. I decided that I needed to capture the quotes because I didn’t know but in a future situation I would need that wisdom which was the case many times. I still have many of those cards in a small recipe box in my office. I cannot bring myself to throw them away as they are a significant part of my development – mind, heart and spirit. Today I have 100s of quotes stored in my memory. These quotes have helped me survive struggles as well as successes in my life.
- Dr. Winsor
Meditation journaling is a powerful writing exercise infused with meditation. Quotes are used to stimulate the mind, heart and spirit towards deeper thinking of principles and morals. Each grade-level team chooses a quote to analyze for the week. Meditations are written in a composition notebook and are used to teach literacy – punctuation, spelling, grammar, handwriting, and word usage. Meditation journals are presented at parent/teacher conferences and may be published at the end of the year for the scholar.
Every member of the Paideia community develops a leadership notebook. The leadership notebook is the tool the scholar and each member of the Paideia community uses to write a personal mission statement, create and track goals, track academic growth and achievement, reflect on leadership roles and accomplishments, and celebrations throughout the year.
Leadership is communicating the worth and potential of people so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves. – Stephen R. Covey
Every scholar is offered an opportunity to hold a leadership role as this is one of the best ways to learn leadership skills. Not only does this act of contributing to the community nurture a sense of belonging, but it also creates opportunities for scholars to learn how to lead themselves and to discover and practice their skills and talents. Examples of leadership roles include: classroom greeter, mail carrier, new scholar helper, recycling club, critter keeper, technology expert, library helper, supply stocker, and playground buddy.
A Recovery Station is a special space in the classroom where children can take a moment to decompress, take a breather, or think about making different choices. Typically, when scholars are talking, acting out, bothering others, unfocused, upset, or agitated, they don't always need a consequence, they just need a chance to reset and return. It’s a powerful thing when they learn to do this on their own, without much adult intervention.
It’s important for kids to grow in self-awareness – recognizing their emotions and responses – and to self-regulate their own emotions and behaviors as this impacts their relationships and the success they will have in school, work, and in life. By learning to recognize when they are upset, bored, or perhaps just avoiding schoolwork, they can then better understand what they need (i.e., a short break to clear their mind, a conversation to clear out negative emotions, and/or further instruction to clarify their assignment) and scholars can adjust their responses accordingly.
In this process, children also grow in understanding how their behavior affects others. They begin to take greater responsibility for their thoughts, words, and actions. They start making better choices inside and outside of the classroom. Their ability to manage their own behavior and emotions rather than having someone else direct it for them sets them on a lifelong trajectory for success in every area of life.