Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – A social-emotional learning program is having a positive impact on the learning environment at a Fort Wayne elementary school. Levan Scott Academy is one of only two schools in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district that is testing a program called Conscious Discipline. “Conscious Discipline is all about social and emotional health,” said Kelli Packnett, Instructional Coach at Levan Scott Academy. “We learn to stay in control. I don’t scream and yell to get my way. I use a different technique.”
Packnett said the method aids in classroom management because it helps students learn emotional discipline so teachers spend less time policing behavior. “We often forget how stressed out kids can be with school work and other things. So this really helps to calm the environment so classroom learning can take place.”
Second grader Serenity Kirk is one of the more than 300 students at Levan Scott who participates in activities that help her regulate her emotions. “We talk about being scared, sad, happy, frustrated and anxious,” said Serenity. “This year I actually got better at keeping myself calm. Talking about my feelings helps.”
The Conscious Discipline program began more than 20 years ago in Florida. “It’s an international program that was started by Dr. Becky Bailey,” said Packnett. “She is a psychologist who found a simple way to help teachers teach their kids.” The principal at Levan Scott brought it to her school four years ago to help students and staff better align with the school’s motto of being respectful and responsible while encouraging positive attitudes.
Teachers and students participate in activities that promote relaxation and help them focus on the needs of others. One of the activities is called We Wish You Well. “So We Wish You Well is a ritual we do that’s all about connecting to others,” said Packnett. “In our kindergarten classrooms for example, when someone is absent we wish them well so their friends are thinking about them if they get hurt we also wish them well.”
Packnett and the other educators at the school believe the program enhances their teaching environment and helps the students. “Four years ago when we started this program our referral rate was over 400 a year. It’s significantly gone down. About 97% of our students have zero to one referrals every year now and I think the program is the main reason for that.”
South Wayne Elementary is the only other school in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district that is trying out the Conscious Discipline program.