Reflecting on April's Mentor Theme: The School Environment

Reflecting on April's Mentor Theme: The School Environment

As we reflect on the month of April here at IES Årsta, we acknowledge the many opportunities we've had to enforce a positive and welcoming environment for our students. More than ever, it is important that both our students and staff come to school and feel like they are in a place that supports them, where they can learn and grow with ambition. 

Through our mentorship program, student groups, PD sessions and classroom lessons we have been able to establish a wonderful working environment for both students and staff this year. It starts with us. We asked our year 9 students if they could describe the environment of IES Årsta in one word. One student said "supportive", another said "caring". 

Enforcing a positive school environment in the mentorship program:

Throughout the year our students have been supported through the mentorship program on Monday and Friday mornings to recognize what makes a positive environment at school. They learn that the power to control the environment is with them- the students. In order to uphold a positive school environment we must all work together to ensure that we are developing and maintaining positive working relationships with one another, respecting one another by following our rules and responsibilities, and developing skills and strategies for dealing with our emotions as well as respectfully responding to the emotions of others. Our students were introduced to many executable strategies that they can use to do their part in enforcing a positive environment for all. Some of these stragies included embracing the power of positive thinking, having a growth mindset, paying it forward, and practicing empathy. In addition, students have been challenged to practice self relflection and have been empowered by their Klassråd lessons where students work together to ensure that a positive and healthy school environment is maintained based on student feedback and suggestions. 

Enforcing a positive environment in the classroom:

As teachers, we must ensure that we are facilitating a learning environment where students can learn and feel they have power to achieve whatever they set their minds to. Often times, we face challenges in the classroom that test us- our teachers explain that it is essential that we uphold a positive and caring approach to dealing with behaviour, academic decline, or conflict. Our teachers do many things to create a positive and exciting classroom environment such as point systems for encouraging positive behaviour and academic progress, peer feedback, and praise. One on one meetings with students are also executed to help build a positive relationship and enforce a sense of support for our students. We always greet our students with a smile, and constantly remind them of how proud we are of their efforts. They need this encouragement to feel motivated to improve!

Enforcing a positive environment through professional development:

Our staff have had many fantastic professional development opportunities this year with topics ranging from Differentiation to Gamification in the classroom. Afterall, teaching is the career of long-term learning! Many of our professional development sessions require us to reflect on what is going well in our school and what needs to be improved or modified. In one particular PD session runned by Mr Coulter (Head of Middle School), we discussed visibility of values and how this contributes to a sense of belonging for all, no matter the context. It doesn't matter if you stand for the purest of values if it is not visible to those who are influenced by your presence. For this reason we created the "Make our Values Visible" initiative. This initiative will be challenging our students to create posters that highlight our school values such as a sense of belonging for all, compassion, safety, and support. Student work will be chosen to create more visibility of these values throughout our school in the form of art, posters, stickers, and banners. We wanted to give our students the power in showing each other that we all belong. Students are excited about the opportunity and want to help facilitate a positive environment for all. We are warmed that their passion for community is so evident. 

As we move ahead to May we will be focusing on Reflection and Planning ahead. Stay tuned for our school wide reflection on this theme.