“What,” Susan asked me, “do you mean when you talk about schools becoming ‘Self-Reg Havens’ and why is this so important?” My immediate reaction was: Ask me an easy one why don’t you! But the fact is, our experience over the past few years has shown us that this may just be the most important issue that we need to address: it helps us define the goal that we should be striving for, although not necessarily the route to get there.
The answer, of course, is that a Self-Reg Haven is a school in which everyone, students and staff, feel emotionally as well as physically safe. But then, such an answer might seem to border on the trite. After all, scientists have been reporting on the importance of creating a safe learning environment since the 1990s; the big stumbling-block has been knowing how to accomplish this feat. It turns out that instituting draconian disciplinary measures has the opposite effect from that intended; yet motivational character messages haven’t proven to be much more effective. But before we can wrestle with the How we have to clarify the What: i.e., get clear on what it means to “feel safe.” [Read more…]