Social contracts. Hand Signals. Good Things. Affirmations. Greetings and handshakes. These may be a few of the things you’ve heard students in the Highland School District talk about since the 22-23 school year has begun.
Before school started, all district administration, faculty, and staff embarked on a training journey that would affect the way they approach everything within the school system this year. The district adopted a voluntary process called Capturing Kids’ Hearts. CKH is a process with the mission of bringing out the BEST in people. This process assists schools in building a culture that is founded on relationships and addresses the social-emotional needs of both students and educators. Research has proven that when students feel connected to teachers and staff members at school there is a positive transformational correlation to some key indicators of school performance: achievement, attendance, discipline, graduation rates and teacher satisfaction and retention.
A key to making this process work is that all staff members are consistent and share the common goal of ensuring all students feel connected, supported, and valued every day.
On a typical morning, you’ll find teachers greeting students at doors with smiles, handshakes, and high-fives. You’ll see and hear students and teachers that are excited to be at school. When teachers first meet with students in the mornings, they share “good things” and begin each day or class period with positivity.
In every classroom teachers and students collaboratively created social contracts to promote family-friendly atmospheres and a learning environment that is positive and comfortable. The contract is a signed agreement between the teacher and students that promotes a self-managing, highly effective learning environment with productive relationships, teamwork, and leadership. During daily routines, the contract becomes a tool for building community and positive behavior within the classroom. Students receive recognition for demonstrating these expectations. Not only does each classroom have a social contract, but the faculty and staff have one, too.
The district’s goal this year with the implementation of CKH is to begin to cultivate a culture in which relationships are at the heart of everything that is done. The core beliefs of the district and CKH combined have already helped staff stay connected to students, families, and one another; with continued diligence, they are certain that this will continue throughout the year.