October 2014

We’re thrilled to present the completed schedule and program for the Safe & Caring Schools Forum coming up on November 24th, 2014. You can now read about all of the fantastic speakers and workshops that will be available including a keynote address from Dr. Stuart Shanker, a Youth conference component, a panel presentation on inter-agency collaboration and much more.

Click HERE for registration details

Or check out the schedule below!

Conference Schedule

7:30 AM
Registration & Breakfast

 

8:30 AM
Welcome & Opening Remarks

 

8:45 AM
Youth Welcome

Dada Mwemera, The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communitites

9:00 AM
Keynote Presentation:

Dr. Stuart Shanker

MEHRIT Centre, Ltd.

EXPANDING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE MEANING OF “SAFE”

 

There are certain unmistakable signs of when a child doesn’t feel safe: the child is very withdrawn and subdued; emotionally volatile; overly anxious; highly impulsive; inattentive, or easily distracted. Or bullying other children. It’s this last sentence that should make us suddenly sit up and realize that we need to think seriously about what we understand by “safe.” We have so much research now telling us how important it is for children’s well-being that they feel safe.  We’ve tended to interpret these findings in terms of the need to stamp out bullying; yet if bullying itself is an unmistakable sign that a child doesn’t feel safe, then what exactly does “safe” mean?

When we talk about how important it is to create safe and caring environments, we are talking about creating the kind of environment, emotional as well as physical, that turns off a child’s alarm. This produces a shift from what neuroscientists call the “survival brain” to the “learning brain.” The learning going on here doesn’t just concern what goes on in class. It’s learning about what’s going on inside your body; understanding your feelings and emotions; knowing what others are thinking and feeling; recognizing the impact of your actions and utterances on others. The problem with seeing “safe” solely in terms of stamping out bullying is that this may lead us to think that this is simply a problem of self-control. But it’s not. Children can only exercise self-control when they are calm, and that requires knowing when and why they are agitated and what they can do to return to being calm. In other words, when they self-regulate.

 

http://www.mehritcentre.com/

 

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education at York University. Among his many books are Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012); Human Development in the 21st  Century (with Alan Fogel and Barbara King, 2008); Early Years Study II (with J. Fraser Mustard and Margaret McCain, 2007); Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (as a member of the PDM Steering Committee, 2006); and The First Idea (with Stanley Greenspan, 2004).

Over the past decade, Shanker has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US and in countries around the world. Most recently, he served as the 2012 Thinker in Residence for Western Australia.  In Canada, he is currently the CEO of the MEHRIT Centre, Ltd., (www.mehritcentre.com), and is assisting in the rolling out of a self-regulation classroom initiative with several Superintendents under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in British Columbia, Yukon, North West Territories and Ontario.

 

10:00 AM
Keynote Presentation:

Jim Gibbons, Rakhi Pancholi, and Caroline Missal

 

WHAT’S NEW IN THE EDUCATION ACT: WELCOMING, CARING, RESPECTFUL AND SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS THAT RESPECT DIVERSITY AND FOSTER A SENSE OF BELONGING.

Are you aware of the upcoming changes to the Act and implications for students, parents and schools/boards when the Act comes into force? This session will look at the sections pertaining to welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments as well as resources available to support these changes. Opportunities will be provided for sharing and discussion.

 

Jim Gibbons, Senior Education Advisor, Education Services, Alberta School Boards Association

Senior education consultant Jim Gibbons joined the ASBA in June, 2010. He came to association from Chinook’s Edge School Division where he served as  superintendent of schools for ten years. A past president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents and the Canadian Association of School Administrators, Jim is on the governing board of the American Superintendents’ Association (AASA). He was appointed to a six-year term as chair of the Council on Alberta Teaching Standards and he serves on University of Calgary Senate. He is a member of the Inspiring Education Steering Committee.  Jim has been an Associate Faculty member for San Diego State, Royal Roads and the University of Alberta Masters’ programs.  He is a trainer/facilitator for Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Jim was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal and the EXL award for his leadership in education. He was awarded an honorary degree from Olds College at convocation in June, 2010.

Rakhi Pancholi, Lawyer, Alberta School Boards Association

 Lawyer Rakhi Pancholi comes to the ASBA after spending 8 years with the Government of Alberta, primarily with Alberta Education. She has extensive experience with the education system and legal expertise in the areas of legislative development and interpretation, administrative law, privacy law, governance issues, and aboriginal law. She played a key role in the development and drafting of the recently passed Education Act and has experience in issues related to First Nation education in Alberta. She completed her law degree at the University of Toronto and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Alberta. Outside of work, Rakhi recently added the title of “mom” to her job description and is also actively involved in animal rescue work in the Edmonton area.

Caroline Missal, Project Manager, The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities

Caroline has worked for Edmonton Public Schools as a teacher, education consultant and for 16 years as a school and district principal. With a background in special education, she is passionate about helping vulnerable children achieve success. Caroline has worked on secondment with Alberta Human Services and Alberta Education where she led initiatives related to welcoming, caring and respectful schools, including changes to the Education Act. She has done extensive work in the area of restorative justice and restorative practices in schools. She is a trained Community Conferencing facilitator and a trainer of facilitators.

 

Keynote Presentation:

Youth Presentation-Dada Mwemera & David Rust

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT AND ACTION: HOW TO CONNECT, CREATE AND CONTRIBUTE WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY!

This Youth-driven presentation will provide knowledge, skills and opportunities to plan for a future for your community with you in a leadership role.

This session will incorporate information, table discussions, time for planning in small groups, and modeling of techniques to create a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe environment.

Prior to the session we would like to have participants think about key issues at their schools or in their communities related to welcoming, caring, respectful and safe environments that they feel passionate about.

Participants will:

  • Gain an understanding of youth engagement strategies;
  • Learn about relevant legislation related to youth engagement and welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments;
  • Have an opportunity to discuss and begin planning youth engagement activities for their schools/communities;
  • Provide feedback on what they need in order to be engaged and engage others; and
  • Have an opportunity to continue conversations through developing communities of practice.

 

http://safeandcaring.ca/home/
11:00 AM
BREAK

 

11:15 AM
Workshop: 1A
Cyberbullying: An Effective Approach to Intervention
Sue Hopgood, Director, Engage & Mary Butlin, Principal, Dickinsfield School, Edmonton

Cyberbullying is pervasive and has the potential to affect hundreds of young people in a school.  It just takes a click of a mouse for messages to go global.  This session will discuss a case study example of a junior high and how they used the Restorative Practice of Community Conferencing to address cyberbullying.

 

Workshop: 1B
Expanding our Understanding of the Meaning of “Caring”
Susan Hopkins, Executive Director, The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities & Dr. Stuart Shanker, MEHRIT Centre, Ltd.

All children and youth are naturally predisposed to be caring: this is, in fact, a basic property of the human social brain. So instead of asking how we can teach a child to be caring (let alone force!), we need to be asking: what are the factors that are blocking this natural trait, what can we do to mitigate those factors, and how can we teach children and youth skills so that they can manage this for themselves.

 

Workshop: 1C
Championing a Mentoring Program
TBD, Alberta Mentoring Partnership

The Alberta Mentoring Partnership (AMP) invites you to learn about the growing trend of mentoring programs in school communities. Mentoring – the presence of caring individuals providing support and friendship – has proven to have a positive impact on school attendance, social skills, attitude, and behaviour. This presentation will focus on how mentoring programs benefit individuals, school communities, and families. Learn about the tools and resources available to support school-based mentoring programs and explore strength-based practices, positive youth development, resilience, and how these connect to mentoring initiatives. Join us and consider how you can be a champion for mentoring in your community!

 

12:15 PM
LUNCH/All Levels Yoga Class!

A vinyasa flow mini-class will be offered as an option for anyone looking to experience the calming effects of yoga practice on the central nervous system, to have some fun and “fill up your tank” for the afternoon sessions. Susan Hopkins, Executive Director of The Society of Safe and Caring Schools and Communities, is also a certified Yoga instructor and will lead this all levels practice. If you’d like to join in bring along some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat. All levels are welcomed!

1:00 PM
Workshop: 2A
Calm in the class: Adding to the Trauma Sensitive School Bag of Tricks
Mardi Hardt (Bernard), School Mental Health Nurse, Edmonton Public Schools & Dr. Stuart Shanker, MEHRIT Centre, Ltd.

Self-regulation, now known to be a cornerstone for lifelong success, can be especially difficult for children who have experienced complex traumas including abuse, neglect and witnessing family violence.  What can classrooms do to help to build the skills and self-awareness related to self-regulation for these children?  This session will discuss the Trauma Sensitive School practices being used in several schools in the 118th Avenue area of Edmonton.  Particular strategies for building student capacity to regulate emotions, state of physiological arousal and thinking will be discussed.

 

 

Workshop: 2B
Celebrating and Supporting Diversity in the Classroom and Community – What can you do to create a Safe and Caring environment for LGBTQ Youth?
David Rust, Director of Community Partnerships, The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities

This session will provide awareness, knowledge, skills and strategies to reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors for LGBTQ youth and other minorities in school and community settings.

Participants will:

  • Gain awareness and understanding of issues related to sexual minority youth
  • Understand the risk factors associated with this population
  • Discuss and develop strategies to increase protective factors, resiliency and affirming connections to school and community for these youth
  • Learn about relevant legislation related to creating welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for all youth
  • Access resources and communities of practice that will support further development in this area

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities will use the information and feedback derived from this presentation in their existing and future LGBTQ presentations and project support. The feedback will also be shared with organizers of The Alberta Safe and Caring Schools Forum.

 

Workshop: 2C
Building a Restorative Culture in Your Classroom/School
Caroline Missal, Project Manager, The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities & MJ Nam, Principal, Fultonvale Elementary/Junior High School, Sherwood Park, AB

How do we build and nurture healthy relationships with and among our students?  How do we encourage our students to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do? How do we teach children and youth to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions and their words? What is it we want students to learn through our discipline practices?

Restorative practices in schools move away from more traditional punishment models to focus on relationships and repairing harm. Participants in this session will hear about:

  • principles of restorative practices;
  • how restorative practices support changes to the Education Act; and
  • one school’s experience implementing restorative principles and practices

 

2:00 PM
BREAK

 

2:15 PM
Keynote Presentation:

Moderator: David Rust

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communites

PANEL PRESENTATION: FROM ASSETS TO ACTION-HOW TO ACHIEVE COLLECTIVE IMPACT IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Diverse panel members will take participants through their experiences of building community by progressing through stages of connection, coordination, collaboration to true integration. The panel will speak about successful initiatives’, what it takes to create and maintain them, and the impact it has on the school, students, and community at large. Participants will then be provided opportunity to discuss, plan and begin to build strategies to respond to their unique community needs and desires for progress.

Panelists:

  1. Sgt Susan Westenberger, “Start Smart, Stay Safe” Lead, Community & Youth Services Section for the Calgary Police Service
  2. Shelley Kofluk, President, and Gillian Carlberg, Vice President, of the Alberta Association of Student’s Councils and Advisors (AASCA)
  3. Michele Moulder, Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
  4. Vicky Mamczasz, Stronger Together Project Coordinator and former Alberta Education Provincial Lead of the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools Initiative

 

http://safeandcaring.ca/home/
3:45 PM
CLOSING REMARKS
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Many people know of Brian Burke. They have heard of his vast accomplishments and his role in the world of hockey. The current president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, and the former GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, his work is no secret to many Canadians. Although Brian has put years of work into hockey, outside of the rink there is a group of people that Brian has worked just as hard to support. At CSSN, we want to take the chance to share with you our story of Brian Burke, and the impact he has made in helping to create safe schools, free of bullying and adversity for all children.

Brian’s mission to help children is not a new one. He has been a long standing supporter of several initiatives and philanthropic organizations. Must notably, Brian is a vocal activist against homophobia in sports, and homophobia in general. Brian speaks openly about his late son Brendan, who came out as gay when he was 20, and became known as an advocate for LGBTQ acceptance in professional sports. In honour of his son Brendan, Burke has been a spokesperson for the “You Can Play” project since it was co-founded by his son Patrick in 2011.

For the past several years, Brian has lent his hand in helping CSSN to create safe schools, and put an end to bullying. With his help, we founded the Safe Schools Hockey Pool, and the Safe Schools NHL Playoff Pool. This past September, we we’re honoured to once again have Brian join us for the 2nd annual draft event at PJ O’Brien’s pub in Toronto. In addition, to being the commissioner of our hockey pool, Brian takes on a large role in the organization and execution of this event by donating his time, his contacts, his ideas, and even his very own gold hockey seats at the ACC.

Last June, we invited supporters to join us for the Good Ole Night For Change: Facing Off Against LGBTQ Bullying, a fundraiser evening hosted by none other than Brian Burke. The proceeds of this event directly supported our efforts and resources to create safe, inclusive school spaces for LGBTQ students, and put an end to homophobic bullying across the country. Brian once again addressed the guests in attendance with an inspiring and thoughtful message of how we can help make a change for these children. (Watch Brian’s speech at this event HERE and an interview with Brian HERE.)

And it isn’t just about fundraisers. Brian has helped us reach out to educators, the front line workers and closest form of support for many struggling children. Last May, Brian gave an opening address at our Calgary Safe and Caring Schools Forum with over a hundred educators in attendance. Although not able to attend in person at the last minute, Brian made sure to send along his support via video, and reminded conference delegates that their work and support for children is essential and valued.

We would like to recognize Brian Burke for his unwavering support! He has undeniably helped us move closer to our vision of safe schools spaces for all children. His continuous donation of time and input has helped us become a better organization, and allowed us to reach out to more educators and students facing challenges. We are so very grateful to have Brian as part of our team, and look forward to many new initiatives with his help!

For more information about our work and how you can get involved, contact us at: info@canadiansafeschools.com

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The below article was originally posted by our collaborative partners The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities.The article is written by the Keynote Speaker for our upcoming Alberta Safe & Caring Forum: Policy to Practice, Dr. Stuart Shanker. Hear more from Dr. Shanker by attending our Forum on November 24th. Get in touch for more details!

FOCUS ON: Expanding our Understanding of the Meaning of “Safe”

by: Dr. Stuart ShankerThere are certain unmistakable signs of when a child doesn’t feel safe: the child is very withdrawn and subdued; emotionally volatile; overly anxious; highly impuls­ive; inattentive, or easily distracted. Or bullying other children. It’s this last sentence that should make us suddenly sit up and realize that we need to think seriously about what we understand by “safe.”We have so much research now telling us how important it is for children’s well-­being that they feel safe.  We’ve tended to interpret these findings in terms of the need to stamp out bullying; yet if bullying itself is an unmistakable sign that a child doesn’t feel safe, then what exactly does “safe” mean?

Neuroscientists have come up with an important answer to this question. They talk about neuroception: systems that lie deep in the brain, which are constantly on the lookout for threats. And these threats come in all shapes and sizes.

There are emo­tional threats; threats to our ego; threats to our sense of what is right and wrong. A look, a vocal­iz­ation, a ges­ture, even a movement can be threatening; and so too can the lack of a look, vocal­iz­a­tion, gesture or movement. Sometimes what is threatening is the demand be­ing made on us; or not knowing how what we are doing or saying will be received. Some­times what is threatening is not knowing what someone is thinking, or an action whose intention we don’t understand. Sometimes the threat comes from a group’s shared under­standing that we ourselves don’t grasp. Sometimes the threat stems from our feelings of vul­nera­bility; or being removed from our comfortable routines.

What is common to all threats is that they cause the child’s alarm system to go off, releasing a surge of adrenaline that arouses the child to fight or flee. When a child feels safe, cortisol and serotonin are released, which counteract these effects.

Children all respond differently to having an alarm that keeps being triggered or that won’t turn off. As we just saw, some become very withdrawn and subdued. Some have problems in mood and anxiety. Some become very impulsive or easily distracted. Some become aggressive. And some go through all of the above.

The reason for these different kinds of responses lies deep in a child’s biology, coupled with the child’s history of interactive experiences, starting from an incredibly young age.

When we talk about how important it is to create safe and caring environments, we are talking about creating the kind of environment, emotional as well as physical, that turns off a child’s alarm. This produces a shift from what neuroscientists call the “survival brain” to the “learning brain.” The learning going on here doesn’t just con­cern what goes on in class. It’s learning about what’s going on inside your body; understanding your feelings and emotions; knowing what others are thinking and feeling; recognizing the impact of your actions and utterances on others.

The reason why it is so important that we expand our understanding of “safe” is the shift this promotes from thinking that what children need is greater self-control to recognizing that what children really need is better self-regulation. For the above skills are what self-regulation is all about.

The problem with seeing “safe” solely in terms of stamping out bullying is that this may lead us to think that this is simply a problem of self-control. But it’s not. Children can only exercise self-control when they are calm, and that requires knowing when and why they are agitated and what they can do to return to being calm. In other words, when they self-regulate.

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This past week yet another fatal shooting has occurred in Toronto. Stu Auty appeared on National television Tuesday morning to discuss lockdowns and crisis situations in schools.

Stu Auty on Canada AM

In face of these recent tragic events and many others that have occurred across the country, CSSN offers some insight into WHY such things are occurring and HOW they can be stopped.

The big question that many authorities, parents, and communities are asking is WHY? Why do kids carry weapons? Why do they use them? The answer is twofold. Generally speaking it is because of 1. Fear and 2. Power. In this case, it is important to remember that many students, even those carrying weapons, are victims. Victims of their society. Many students carry weapons out of fear. Fear for their safety, fear of the unknown, fear of not belonging. They also carry weapons as a form of power. They view a weapon as a way to combat the fear, and gain power.

For this reason, we believe in early intervention. Early intervention involves educating students while they are young to make educated and safe decisions, before they reach for a weapon or use violence as a form of power. If a child learns pro-social skills, learns right from wrong, values, honesty, caring, then it is highly unlikely they will reach for a weapon to solve a problem.

How to put an end to youth violence?

This is an even bigger questions. One that has no precise solution. But, there are strategies.

Parents should speak with their children. Use recent events as an opportunity to discuss and learn about lockdowns, and a hold & secure. Discuss the events with your child with the goal of reducing anxiety.

Most importantly, be aware of your child and their behaviour. Know your children’s friends, because often children become their friends. Assure that they choose their friends carefully. Notice warning signs in your children, change in attitude, not interested in attending school, change in appetite and clothing, are all indicators of a change in their environment and could mean they are putting themselves in dangerous situations.

As for educators, they should be able to share the same messages that parents are sharing. Cohesive communication from the different adults in a child’s life is essential. After an emergency situation or crisis event, stress the importance of what has occurred, and what can be learned. Often, students do not fully understand what might happen if they are carrying a weapon. Stress the impact of their actions.

Finally, we believe in preventative strategies not responsive ones. Police presence in schools and metal detectors are not concrete solutions to the problem. It is through education, and spreading positive values to young people that we will be able to make a difference, and reduce youth violence all together.

If you have questions about youth violence and what we can do to stop it. Please get in touch.
info@canadiansafeschools.com
@CndnSafeSchools

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