To learn more about experiential education from the Association for Experiential Education, click here
To learn more about Project-Based Learning from the Buck Institute on Education, click here.
To learn more about our methods and philosophy, click TESG_Brochure
To see our TESG Community Q&A Slideshow with information and frequently asked questions, click here
Social justice is also a cornerstone of teaching and learning at TESG. In our first year of operation, TESG staff worked together to develop the following mission statement for social justice education:
“We, at TESG, believe youth are dynamic agents of change who develop a sense of self/others, recognize injustice, have courage in the face of bias, and act collectively to cultivate equitable communities.”
Our work towards this mission is guided by the Teaching Tolerance standards for Social Justice Education. These standards are for grades K-12, and they help us structure our social justice teaching in age-appropriate ways across the school. The four main threads within these standards are Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action.
You can read the standards and learn more about the framework at https://www.tolerance.org/frameworks/social-justice-standards.
Because this social justice mission underpins our curriculum, our students often engage in conversations, readings, and other work that explore issues related to social justice. These issues may include racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Many times these topics are student-led, as they bring their curiosities and life experiences into the classroom. We also strive to offer students more equitable representation in our historical, literary, and current event study. In other words, we make sure to tell the stories of people from a variety of backgrounds and identities so that all our students see themselves reflected in our curriculum. As we tell these stories, we encourage students to examine others’ and their own points of view, challenge them to support opinions with facts, teach them media literacy skills, and model how to have civil debate and disagreement. We know that students are already thinking and talking about these issues, and so we strive to teach them the skills they need to have these conversations productively and to provide a safe structure for discussing these topics. These are all skills that help young people develop as agents of change and as engaged citizens in our democracy. For these reasons, we do not offer opt-outs for social justice projects or discussions.
We also know that social justice work can’t only happen at school, so throughout the year, we share resources with families so they can dialog productively with teachers and their students about how issues are approached with students and attend to any concerns that arise. We hope that together, we can create a home-school partnership that supports our students as they move towards their teenage years and begin to tackle more complex topics in their schooling and in their lives.
The following resources may help:
Social and Emotional Learning
At TESG, we value social and emotional learning, and this focus is reflected in both our curriculum and our discipline protocols. We believe the ultimate goal of discipline is to help kids learn to self-regulate. To do so, they need to practice recognizing their emotions and find strategies for resolving internal and external conflict. As such, we use discipline methods developed from Responsive Classrooms and guided by restorative justice principles.
Zones of Regulation
In order to be collaborative members of a community, students need to develop their self-regulation and conflict resolution skills. They need to learn how to identify their emotions, understand how their emotions impact their actions, and recognize how their actions can affect others. They need strategies to help them process their feelings safely and kindly.
One way we help teach these skills is with Zones of Regulation. This technique groups feelings into four categories–blue, green, yellow, and red (see the graphic above for details). This common language helps us talk with students about their emotions. We work with them to understand how each zone feels and looks so that they can identify which zone they or others are in. We discuss strategies for “getting into the green zone” and use check-in charts at various times each day to practice labeling our emotions. Our students have really embraced this language, so you might want to try it out with them at home!
s, you work when the rest of the class plays. Similarly, Loss of a Privilege helps kids learn that there are repercussions to their choices. For example. if you can’t use the stool safely, you will need to pick a different seating option. If you and your friend can’t keep from talking instead of working, you will both have to choose other spots to sit where you can more easily focus on your work. If you and your friends use unsportsmanlike words or actions during basketball, you will all have to pick a different activity for recess.
More information from Responsive Classroom about Logical Consequences can be found here.
Take a Break
While a teacher may ask a student to take a break, Take a Break is not a form of punishment or “time out” in the classic sense. Instead, it is a self-care tool we teach children so that they can a) begin to recognize the feelings that may cause unproductive or disruptive choices and b) self-regulate those feelings through calming choices.
More information from Responsive Classroom about Take a Break can be found here.