What does a safe school / social culture look like?
We believe in a school where everyone is responsbile for their actions and when someone makes a mistake, he makes it right. It is not a place where veryon is nice to everyone else, as much as we might wish for that. Inside, a safe social culture is a place where all students know that they are supported and valued. They know their teachers will help when there is a problem. Students tell the truth, knowing that they can make it right and move on if they are wrong. Everyone in the school works on positive norms to make respect, kindness, and honesty a priority in all social dealings. All of these ideals are carefully developed through systemic change.
What are the best practices for creating a change in schools?
See our list of best practices for successful change in schools here.
What is the best way to address relational aggression in schools?
The Ophelia Project offers several different types of programming - group lessons, student leadership groups, mentoring programs, or CASS - our schoolwide systemic change process. The type the works more than anything else is also the one that requires the most work: systemic change
What is systemic change?
Systemic change is a process of reorganizing an environment's normative beliefs by conciously working towards a goal. It is not quick fix or easy remedy. Systemic change takes time to carefully address a problem and essentially reprogram the way all members of a group think about the problem. It requires planning, execution, and maintenance, usually over several year in the process. See our list of common reasons why systemic change fails and how your school can overcome these roadblocks.
Why is change so complicated?
There are no quick fixes in social culture change. Children develop their own social norms and act out aggressively below the radar screen of adults. Any program that works must first need a picture of what a "safe social culture" looks like and approach this goal from many levels. Take time to discover what is happening when students aren't.
How does The Ophelia Project's CASS: Creating a Safe School intervention work?
CASS brings together the students, teachers, parents, administrators, staff, and community members to bring about systemic change in the schools' social culture. Teachers, administrators, and staff attend in-service training, parents and community members attend community nights, and students have classroom meetings with all of these learning events focusing on the SAME skills. United with the common Language of Peer Aggression, everyone in the school learns a clear way to define peer aggression and discuss what is happening in the school. See the Year 1 Pilot Study Results.
Can I get grants to fund systemic change in my school?
Granting programs change regularly. However, we have provided templates to schools who are interested in systemic change, specifically our CASS program, overviewing why systemic change works and the best practices in systemic change programs. Grant Template for K-8 Schools ; Grant Template for High Schools
I don't think my school is ready for systemic change, is there a smaller-scale intervention?
Of course there are smaller scale interventions and they can work, too. Anyone looking to address peer aggression can use the individual curricula available on the Downloads page. Also, for some easy tips and tricks to integrate into your classroom choose an option from the list below.
What are The Five Critical Steps?
The Five Critical Steps is a framework developed by Ophelia Project Founder Sue Wellman that systemically helps agents of change identify and address peer aggresion and set up a more proactice, preventive environment where all members of a community are respected and valued. Please click here to see an overview of The Five Critical Steps and the research background which justifies its use. Ophelia Project Professional Development programs and Parent Study Group are designed using this model.