Surrey Green Timbers MLA Sue Hammell spoke in the Legislature yesterday on the “3 Things” program at Senator Reid Elementary as a beacon for the anti-bullying movement. The excerpt from Hansard:
Debates of the Legislative )
Wednesday, February 27, 2013Afternoon Sitting
BULLYING PREVENTION INITIATIVE
AT SENATOR REID SCHOOL
S. Hammell: I recently met with Faizel Rawji, a principal in my constituency, at Senator Reid Elementary School. In the fall the school launched a program called Three Things. To quote Mr. Rawji: “The program is the antithesis of bullying programs in that it promotes positive behaviours and a new norm in the school. It has taught the students to be three things: kind to themselves, kind to the environment and kind to each other.”
Last year, the school had 480 referrals to the office, and as of today, after the school embraced Three Things, there have been 11 referrals. Amazing. Why? Because Senator Reid has become a school of kindness. Once the students have documented their three acts of kindness, they become part of the Three Things club and they receive a purple t-shirt. If the student continues to do three acts of kindness, they wear their purple shirts on Three Things Thursday. Students are proud to share their acts of kindness, and on Thursdays there is a sea of purple t-shirts.
If we remember to govern ourselves by these three things here in the Legislature, I know we will create change for the better, three practical steps at a time.
Honourable MLA Sue Hammell at the Legislature yesterday
Coming to a new school has been a challenge in many ways. It is always tricky to try and change established mindsets and norms. One of the most successful movements that have taken place at Senator Reid is a program called ‘3 Things”.
The ‘Three Things’ movement came out of Calgary from Mayor Nenshi in his goal to create greater civic involvement from the mainstream. The idea that Mayor Nenshi put forward has had huge resonance in Calgary.
‘3 Things’ at Senator Reid Elementary has also gained a ton of momentum. The program is the antithesis of bullying programs in that it promotes positive behaviors and the new norm for our school. When a student does ‘3 Things’ they can go to any adult in the school and let them know. When they tell an adult they do not have to prove what they have done, nor are they necessarily questioned about what they have done. The adult will likely engage in a conversation and then hand the student a SR purple heart t-shirt that has the words ‘3 Things’ largely imprinted on the back of the shirt. More conversations about social responsibility have taken place as a result of ‘3 Things’ and ongoing conversations are sparked as a result of the initiative, the shirt and the excitement around this being part of this socially responsible group.
So far we have seen the following outcomes from this program:
1) Wearing a ‘3 Things” shirt has become an honour and it says as much about a child as does the acts of kindness that the children are engaged in.
2) Every day we have line ups of children at the office asking to help or engage in something that is socially responsible
3) Last year we had 480 referrals sent from teachers to the office for behaviours that were beyond their scope. This year we have had 3 referrals!
This community has been typically dis-engaged from school. Today, they are applauding ‘3 Things” as their children are coming home and looking for things to do to be socially responsible.
The grand kick off of ‘3 Things’ is going to take place on November 16th at SR and although the details are still a secret, it is going to represent the spirit in which the program has been founded
The current political climates that schools are working under are causing stressors and lesions in the system. The analogy I would like to draw upon is in economics. In economics the ebb and flow of market volatility means that recessions/depressions will and do occur on occasion. Whenever this occurs the leaders that built large industry get destroyed and new market forces are created. In our most recent example we have seen Apple take over the dominance of Microsoft in the most volatile economic time; other examples would include the expansion of hybrid vehicles, the dominance of companies like Facebook. The point being that new ideas and innovation get born out of necessity mostly created in tumultuous times.
As I drove to work today I could not help but think about the potential parallels that could be made to education. For example, one parallel is that there are labour disputes on regular (and far too frequent) intervals. Although the lesions in the system become more acute at these times, it is also a great time to sit back and think about what people are doing in this new climate . How are people/schools innovating to accommodate to the new demands being placed on them? By necessity, we have to be more efficient, what does this look like and are their redundancies in the system that we should be reviewing based on the lessons we are now learning. Lets take the example given by business to look for pockets of innovation during this time and look for inventive practices that are saving time increasing efficiency. Believe it or not, this can be an important time of learning for all of us, if we choose to look for the silver lining.
Early in 2010 I sat on a roundtable to review the Premier’s Technology paper titled “A Vision for 21st Century Education”. This paper embodied what we know is good for children, what we believe is positive about teaching and learning. Overall, I read this and thought that it was a great direction for us to be moving in. After all, the notion of giving children more avenues for learning is very difficult to argue with. What many people have taken this paper to mean is that the medium for giving children options is mainly from online/distance learning. Technology has a function in information resourcing, however, it is terribly problematic if it is seen as the panacea for individualized learning. Conversely, this paper was clear about the role of the teacher moving from being directive at a young age to coaching and facilitating throughout their development and growth.
Side-liners on education are frothing at the ideal of what Sir Ken calls an ‘education revolution’. We need to realize that this ‘revolution’ cannot be at the cost of social/emotional learning. Resiliency research is around positive adult role models is clear that adults and educators have a massive impact on child development, never to be usurped by a gadget. I recently heard the adage, if a teacher can be replaced by a computer, they should; which rings true on so many levels. We must not replace the term ‘educational reform’ with ‘fiscal responsibility’. It seems that the underlying/nondescript theme behind educational reform is the replacement of ‘expensive teachers’ with distance learning/technology. I argue that the two are not equitable. The lessons learned by the new OECD (Organization of Economic Development) report are that school autonomy, a focus on students that are having difficulties, and keeping high standards for teachers are at the heart of positive outcomes for students. I have yet to read that an increase in distance learning leads to better outcomes. Although, I do understand that there is a value in giving students more choices in their learning.
I take deference with Sir Ken Robinson in his remark that ‘schools do not need an evolution but a revolution’. The premise here is that we throw out all that we have learned about good teaching, about positive role models, about consistency, about great pedagogy so that we can chase the new shiny ring. This leaves bureaucrats and side-liners with whole new venues for their uninformed views. We have a new tool in our box; lets use it expeditiously in correlation with all that we know that has worked before. As much as we want to believe we are in a whole new era; kids are still kids and growing up is still a process that requires adult intervention. Remember “Lord of the Flies” and think about the pivotal role that adults play in children’s lives. If teachers are not using technology they and their students are missing out. If they are using technology all of the time and not connecting to their students personally, then I go back to my favourite adage mentioned above.
As we reflect on where education is going, lets be cogniscient of the fact that it does not have to be either/or and that sometimes the newest shiniest penny is not always the most valuable.