In addition to a rigorous academic program, TCDS strives for social excellence, helping students and staff learn and live the Champion Traits each day. These Champion Traits (see below) are taught in an integrated manner and learned through daily application. Equipped with these traits, students leave TCDS a Champion for life, prepared to effectively engage with their surrounding world. Imagine your child exhibiting the following traits every day…
Building social excellence: The Champion Check-in.
WHY the Champion Check-in?
A Champion Check-in is a proven, proactive and intentional solution to building a bonded classroom community and fulfilling children’s need to belong, feel significant, have fun, grow trust and set a positive tone for interacting. We believe an important goal is to generate real “school spirit” in every student and staff member, to promote the excitement of learning and the desire to come to school.
Children often need a transition from home to campus, from lunch and recess returning to the classroom, and a meaningful closure at the end of each school day. A Champion-Check-in serves to provide this transition while simultaneously implementing the school culture we strive to have.
This time can be used to effectively communicate and clarify expectations, facilitate social emotional learning, establish and maintain norms, reinforce academic skills, engage meaningful reflection, discuss habits of work, provide feedback to each other, focus on Champion Traits and other virtues, practice mindfulness, grow empathy, conduct restorative practices when repair is needed, make decisions together, and ultimately build healthy relationships that enable academic and social success.
WHY get in a circle for the Champion Check-in?
For all our technological advances, humans have come to realize that we lost something along the way – a very simple and effective technology that fosters mutual understanding and connection in a way that often seems magical. We may find this ancient form of social discourse helps us address our greatest challenges.
Circles, by their very structure, convey important ideas and values:
Equity – everyone in the circle has equal seating
Safety and Trust – you can see everyone so nothing is hidden
Responsibility – everyone has a chance to play a role in the outcome
Facilitation – a circle reminds the leader to facilitate rather than lecture
Ownership – collectively, participants feel this is their space
Connection – everyone listens to everyone else’s responses
Meeting in a circle is powerful, implies community, inclusion, fairness, equality and wholeness. A circle establishes mutual respect and an even playing field for each member. Research confirms that the increase in anxiety disorders and inappropriate behavior in schools is a direct consequence of the overall loss of connectedness in our society. A circle allows people to face each other, look one another in the eye, thus diminishing the feeling of disconnectedness that permeates our modern world. It ensures that everyone is more engaged. The perspectives, facts and stories shared in a circle have the quality of cultivating empathy and influencing behavior. When people remove the barriers between them and make themselves vulnerable, it allows them to learn from and encourage each other. Through intentionally fostering a sense of belonging that constitutes a healthy classroom community – anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, narcissism and violence decrease and academic performance flourishes.
HOW is a Champion Check-in facilitated?
- Allow 10 – 20 minutes, varying times depending on purpose
- Gather – get in a circle or oval, eliminating barriers, at the beginning of a section of each day (morning, after lunch/recess, dismissal), sit or stand shoulder to shoulder, look around and see everyone’s face, (can use a talking piece to aid with interruptions)
- Greeting – welcome everyone in the morning, create a friendly tone and trusting atmosphere, various greetings can be done individually at the door or after gathering
- Sharing – everyone has the opportunity to respond briefly to a chosen topic
- Activity (whole group participation) – active game, math activity, trivia, stretch, choral/quote/poetry/virtue reading, singing, practice classroom norms (how to sit or stand during check-in, how to respond to signal for quiet attention (open ears/closed mouth), how to circle up in an orderly way, how to ask respectful questions and make empathic comments, how to listen with attention and take turns
- Message – go over schedule, announcements, how to transition from a lively activity to settling down, students read prepared messages, information about the work block, transition to the next activity