Warm Greetings, 3 Breaths, And A Constitution Help Students Thrive
When the bell rang on a recent Tuesday afternoon at Jennie Reed Elementary School, the halls were filled with students in neat, single-file lines. Each line moved in a different direction depending on where the students went after school. A handful of these lines converged on the cafeteria where students gathered for Jaguar Jump, Reed’s after school Expanded Learning program.
As they filed in, the students seemed to know exactly where to go and what to do. Fourth-grader Briellah explained that was because they all knew and agreed to the Constitution for snack time:
“Once you come in, you sit down at your table and wait until Mr. Chad or your leader say it’s ok to get snack. When you go get snack, if you don’t want it, you set it down on the ‘Share Table’. Then you come eat it at your table. If you want extras you can ask your leader if you can go to the ‘Share Table’ for extras. Then when you’re done, you clean up your table and wait until we go to our class.”
Classroom Constitutions, like the one Briella described, are one of several routines used during the school day and after school at Jaguar Jump. Additional routines include Warm Greetings, where adults personally greet each student at the door, Community Circles, where students have an opportunity to share how they are feeling each day, and 3 Breaths, where everyone pauses together to take three deep breaths before transitioning from one activity to another.
“…when you create a foundation where a student knows what is expected of them in any scenario during the day, then it gives them confidence to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to improving themselves as a learner.”
“We’ve been doing these practices during the school day for a few years now,” said Principal Abby Sloan, “it’s cool to see the after school providers align with them too so that it’s consistent for the kids all throughout the day.”
Jaguar Jump program has been a fixture at Reed for several years. The work of incorporating these routines from the regular school day into the after school Expanded Learning Opportunities is something that has been done much more intentionally over the past couple years through the Whole Child Partnership.
Abby says this alignment between adults who work with students throughout the day is vital for creating the type of secure learning environments that help kids thrive. “You need to be a risk-taker to be a learner. So, when you create a foundation where a student knows what is expected of them in any scenario during the day, then it gives them confidence to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to improving themselves as a learner.”
“…we know its something we all made together and we will all follow it.”
Jaguar Jump Site Director, Chad Cray says he’s seen evidence of this risk-taking in the way the students have stepped into leadership roles after school. “They are taking the lead in creating the Constitutions for their programs and sharing them with new students who come in. There are are also students who ask to help with the greetings, taking attendance, or leading the 3 breaths activity.”
Briellah and her fellow members created a constitution for their expanded learning club. She thinks it’s important that students help, “because then we know it’s something we all made together and we will all follow it.” As the snack time ended, Briellah joined another neat, single-file line and headed down the hall to Sketch Club.