When I first came to Pace Learning Center I didn’t want to be here. There were only a couple of kids, but i got a lot of attention and made some friends. I had a bad temper and always was getting held at the YMCA before and after school.
I really like my teachers here and am really good at doing my work, especially math. So I finished kindergarten and first grade, then I got a new teacher at PLC for second grade. My mom really wanted me to go back to my public school and I wanted to go back too.
So I started to go there for a half day in the afternoon for a couple of weeks. Things went really good and right after Thanksgiving I went back to my public school permanently. At PLC I learned to control my anger and be a positive role model to the little kids. I only needed to be restrained one time the whole time I was at PLC. I also learned to be safe and to use my safety plan when I get mad.
“Teachers who are stressed, unhappy, and unsupported by their peers are more inclined to treat their students with disrespect.”[i]
At Pace we know, through our understanding of trauma, that we are sponges for our peer’s emotional states, whether we want to be or not. And as we all know, children are even “spongier” than adults. They absorb our energy – whether positive or negative. How we talk to each other creates a “climate” that can be pleasant and respectful or can be clique-ish and unfriendly.
In a recent article in Educational Leadership: Respect-Where Do We Start?, Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin, makes a strong case that the adult culture of a school is key to developing respectful students. But as simple as this insight sounds, it’s not easy to change the culture of any group of adults, and even harder to change a culture where the adults are constantly under pressure to interact positively with children. Their needs and behaviors can overwhelm even the most cheerful disposition.
Why is it so hard for people to stay positive? Ms. Beaudoin, who uses brain research to make her point, says that “It’s easy for people to dwell on negative affective states because, according to neuroscientists, there are more neural networks in the brain associated with negative affect than with positive affect (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001); some scientists even speculate that these may be in the ratio of 5 to 1.”[ii]
Her suggestion: start by evaluating the conversation in the lunchroom. Are people talking about their problems? Are they complaining to each other or engaging in “one-ups-man-ship” about the latest student horror story? Are they talking about the work or are they talking about each other’s interests and lives? »Read More
It’s amazing how much we know about the development of the brain. It seems like every week, there is new science showing how the brain forms and responds to any number of stimuli. At Pace, we know that all of students are affected by some social, emotional or behavioral disorder. Unfortunately, there is still no way to “fix” the brain. Even with all the advances, we still have to rely on the tried and true, low-tech methods for giving all kids the chance to succeed in school.
One area that Pace School has focused on is the effect of trauma and chronic stress on children. All kinds of information can tell us exactly how the brain of a child is altered by the experience of chronic stress. We can see pictures of developing brains and learn all about the regions affected, but how do we help this child – today? »Read More