A Little Respect!

Research: Sound Discipline of Seattle published a great article this week that asks us to re-think the notion of disrespect in scRespectAllhool and at home, distinguishing the concept of respect from that of obedience. They define obedience as “following the directions of an authority figure,” an act that is based in fear and results in compliance. By contrast, respect means “holding the other person in high regard” and considering their feelings, an act that is based in a cooperative relationship. In schools, they suggest that teachers and staff model self-regulation and respect, connect with students before asking anything of them/correcting them, and listen to their students. Click here for tips about how to practice respect at home.
Practice: We don’t believe that children choose to be disrespectful. So when we see behaviors that could be interpreted as such we dig down to find what’s really going on. Something must be off for such behaviors to flare. Is the student being stretched too far in some way? Academically? Socially? Physically? Emotionally? Does the student connect with their teacher or their peers? We gather teachers together or call team meetings to problem-solve such issues and can change the student’s program to meet their changing needs at any time. Respect is a fundamental aspect of our program.


CalmResearch: Eric Jensen argues that self-regulation is the number one executive function skill that kids need to be successful in school. Also termed grit, resilience, or perseverance, Jensen cites numerous studies that relate this skill to academic performance and educational achievement. Students who can regulate their emotions and behavior are simply more likely to succeed in school and in life.

Practice: Self-regulation can be taught by slowing down to consider student attitudes and choices in given circumstances. At Chrysalis we engage students in direct, honest conversations about their behavior–where it might be appropriate, where it might not, and how to make that decision. We look for teachable moments where we see students struggling with self-regulation and use that opportunity to drive lessons around behavior and promote positive interactions. We allow students the opportunity to fail and get back up in a caring environment where everyone makes mistakes and learns from them.



Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning
Research: The Journal of Educational Psychology published a paper that links spatial reasoning to academic achievement in STEM-related subjects, particularly engineering and mathematics. Spatial reasoning refers to one’s ability to understand relationships among objects in space. It can be taught by maneuvering material through physical space, including activities that are generally linked to play—such as playing with blocks or Legos, knitting, doing puzzles, and playing games. The skills children build in these arenas (while not overtly related to STEM content) can actually improve their ability to perform in STEM-related subjects.

Practice: This evidence strengthens the importance we place on hands-on activities and play during the school day. While most schools refer to drama, art, design, geography, or PE as electives that are too easily eliminated from a student’s day, we recognize their importance and can easily incorporate them into a student’s schedule. Students have access to makerspace activities, puzzles, and games during their free time. While they aren’t directly working on STEM content, their brains are being prepared to do so in ways that they find rewarding and fun.

Think Deeply!

Research: Many curricWebula utilized in schools today focus on cramming a vast quantity of content into students’ heads with the expectation that they will not only know it, but also be able to evaluate, apply, and think critically about it—all on a high-pace timetable. More focus is placed on what they know than how they think, with a worrisome sense that our kids won’t “know everything” by the time they’re 18. Our founder, Karen Fogle, notes that it’s important to step back and realize that children aren’t going to learn everything. As such, trying to teach them more than they can process is a waste of time and energy. Instead, it’s more valuable to cover less material and have it be remembered than cover a lot of material and have it be forgotten. Students need time to process information and figure out where and how to store it, otherwise they will have no memory of learning it and certainly no ability to use it to solve problems. In today’s world, there is no lack of information and very little need to memorize facts when they are at your fingertips. What’s really valuable is knowing how to access resources to gather what you need to know and be able to think critically about what you discover.
Practice: At Chrysalis we value deep learning that requires complex thinking over shallow, superficial coverage of a subject. We place our focus on teaching the student, not solely the content, which allows us a great deal of flexibility in what we cover, how long we take, and the methods we use with each student. The content serves a a vehicle for larger lessons. Our students aren’t burdened by massive loads of reading and homework because we know just how much to give them to make their learning meaningful and challenging, without burning them out in the process.

Dignity in School

Research: Educator and author Tim Lucas argues that one of the most important ways to connect with students is to engage them through their dignity. Schools in general have become places where children’s dignity is constantly tested. It occurs in overt ways like peer bullying, but also in more subtle ways like the labeling of some students as lazy, disorganized, or dumb; grading systems that highlight weakness; and the failure to recognize individual needs in learning. But as Lucas argues, “Only students with a strong sense of their own dignity can grow up to be adults who can take risks, handle failures, and act to protect other people’s dignity.”
Practice: Many of our students have experienced a loss of dignity at some point in their school experience. We work to combat any damage that’s been done by re-framing the school environment from one that’s based in competition and rank to one that focuses on collaboration and community. We encourage positive behaviors at school by modeling them ourselves and encouraging positive relationships with students and one another. Our staff guide conversations, initiate discussions about the importance of respect when needed, and demonstrate empathy. We’ve seen amazing transformations as a result!