Our world has changed a lot this year. While workspaces were being moved into our homes, so too were school classrooms, recreationals and extra-curricular activities. It was (and still is) a logistical and emotional hardship felt by many, and has brought with it a sense of trepidation, concern for health and safety, and fear of the unknown.
What we lacked was a sense of calm.
Enter the Canadian Red Cross, who recognized this dilemma too and responded with funds to the calmversation learning foundation to ease the transition back to school. Thanks to their boost and within a span of just three months we’ve reached nearly 600 teachers and 30,000 students across Canada with our School Care Kits!
While our work is not done, we’re happy to share that our kits have made a great impact in the way we connect, create and problem-solve together. Curious to know how educators have responded to the kits? Read on to discover our highlights of this past year with calmversation learning foundation.
We listened to what concerned educators most about going back to school
Before the start of the school year we sent a survey out to teachers requesting their input on what concerned them most about going back to school in September during the pandemic, as it related to providing education. Their concerns included:
- Creating a calm, safe environment
- Empowering students
- Keeping students engaged and active
- Connecting with students and parents
- Educator burnout
From this survey we recognized the importance of helping educators address these issues, which became our focus in creating social and emotional learning behaviours through our School Care Kits and eventually, our Family Care Kits.
We shared the value of Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
This year we were delighted to introduce Social Emotional Learning to a larger audience in 2020.
Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Within this framework, the calmversation care kits seek to empower Grades K-12 students with the communication skills and self-expression tools they need to become creative problem solvers and compassionate leaders now and in the future.
After taking our program, educators shared with us how much fairer students were performing and interacting with others after experiencing a respectful and calming environment.
“Pandemic or not, this is a method with a beating heart.”Lisa Gagnon of Quebec
“Thanks for this incredible gift. Everyone will benefit from the tools and strategies.”Candice Essar of Vancouver
We introduced the Back-to-School Care Kit to educators
We knew that school in September was going to be a little different this year. With so many kids enrolled in homeschooling or hadn’t entered the school building for nearly six months, we recognized that parents, teachers, and students were going to need some readjustment time.
Science tells us we are better able to take in and process information when we are calm.
By fostering mutually respectful and calming environments, we can enable a flourishing exchange of communication that helps children understand themselves as well as each other better.
Based on this philosophy, we created the Back-to-School Care Kit with 40 lesson plans over a 12-week period. Inside the kit, educators received:
- Micro professional development sessions
- Activities to empower creative problem solving
- Tips and tools to take care of yourself
Launched August 24th to teachers, homeschoolers, and parents, our kit has since then been used in:
- 52 cities across Canada
- 7 provinces (BC, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Nova Scotia)
- 10 cities in the US
- And even 1 city in India and 1 city in the Dominican Republic
With close to 600 educators who have signed up for our program, it warms our heart to know that we’ve impacted over 30,000 students with our program! And with the support of the Canadian Red Cross, it was able to be accessed entirely free.
Educators have said some of their favourite aspects of the kit are:
- The ideas for small ways to bring mindfulness to their classrooms
- The skills to help them and their students cope
- The way it empowered students
- How it directly related to world events (like the pandemic and gender equality)
- The strategies to ease students back into school
To support educators in getting the full benefits of the program, we also hosted a series of workshops that aligned the current social climate with opportunities for bringing calmversation into the classroom.
We created the Family Care Kit for parents and caregivers
Based on feedback within the first month of the Back-to-School Care Kit we recognized caregivers were needing more support in their home as well to create better connections with their families.
In November, we introduced the Family Care Kit, a downloadable pdf that includes a variety of activities that support observation, reflection and connection with your family. In just a month a half’s time we’ve seen a surge of downloads of the kit, with now close to 750 downloads.
Described by Jamie Khau, mom to three girls, she says this about the Family Care Kit: “After downloading the kit I was so happy. It was the type of resource I was looking for to help keep my family thriving in the months to come.”
Download your own free kit here. This was again made possible through the support of the Canadian Red Cross.
We were honoured to have the resources to provide these kits to educators across Canada for free for 3.5 months through funding support from the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada. As a not-for-profit organization with big goals of changing the face of education to meet the needs of our changing world, these funds will forever be appreciated.
What we’ve learned in 2020
How we teach our children has changed so much in just 9 months. With the global pandemic weighing on the minds of educators, students, and their parents, the way we approach and talk about education in the months and years to come needs to evolve.
Having greater sensitivity and teaching with more empathy is critical in creating an environment conducive to learning in our evolving world. Know that as we continue into 2021, our work at calmversation isn’t over yet, in fact we have only just begun. We plan to provide more kits and greater resources in the coming year. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to learn about our new initiatives coming up soon.
And before we head off on our winter holidays, we wanted to thank each and every teacher and parent for all the hard work you’ve put in this past year. You’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic and your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all that you do.
We wish you all a very merry holiday season, and a happy and education-filled new year!