Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School: Building School Culture to Address Students’ Needs
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Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School: Building School Culture to Address Students’ Needs


– Our school has about 800 kids, located on the near
north side of Nashville. Our kids are coming from communities that aren’t language
rich in a lot of ways. So our kids come to us
with lots of opportunities for growth, especially
when it comes to literacy. We’ve worked not only
assemble a team of teachers who really understand
teaching and learning, but are really able to build
those quality relationships and then generate outcomes. I came five years ago,
and in the five years there’s been a lot of change. (birds chirping) (students chattering) We teach kids behaviors in the same way we teach them reading and writing. – I really want you to
think on who you are, what you represent, things
that you’re going through, things that you’ve accomplished. – We started by saying, we’re gonna respect every single kid. So we don’t yell at kids. I will never yell at my staff,
I will not yell at a student, and if they are yelling at
us, we’re gonna teach them that that’s not okay. And so starting to really change the way we think about interacting with others. – They keep reminding us, you’re greater than what you think. We keep our heads up. We come in, do what we have to do so we can be that school that
no one thought we could be. – [Sonia] But then from there you have to really build systems. We have five core values. They are in every hallway
and in every classroom. So they see it all the time
and they hear it all the time. We also have non-negotiables
that are really specific. – All right, you guys know what’s expected of you today, correct? Kids are not swearing,
they’re not on their phones, they’re respecting the teachers. There’s a common language. The expectations in my classroom look exactly the same way
as in another classroom. So there’s no confusion,
and it creates more time for valuable instruction. – We took a model,
looking at peer feedback, and how we could really
support each other. We all kinda come together. We’re looking at classroom
behavior, classroom culture, looking at those core values. We can kinda check off what’s
being adhered to or broken. – We watched hands go like this. – [Marqo] And then we
talk about what we see. When we look at the core
values, a lot of what we saw was evidence of others first. – People feel safe when
they know what to expect. And so, when you’re
consistent, room to room, hallway to hallway, academy to academy, kids feel safe within that structure and are quicker to learn. There’s a lot of other things that we do to create spaces that are conducive for social emotional learning. – [Teacher] Well, good morning, everybody. – [Class] Good morning. – Welcome to the Zone. – [Sonia] We have a place
called the Zone which we use in lieu of suspension. – This space is created
to have a conversation about navigating those issues. – [Sonia] Kids get into
a circle and they discuss what their behaviors were,
and ways to correct it. We have another space where
our counselor is located. – All right, so you’re
gonna talk to first. And when he get done,
you’re gonna talk, okay? – [Sonia] Who does real-time
conflict resolution. – I didn’t wanna tell
you who to hang with. – [Sonia] We can’t expect
people to just get along. We have to show them what
getting along looks like. – You are both strong young men. – Something is knowing how I
contributed to the conflict, right, and how to respond
to you with empathy. – I wasn’t solving that the right way. I should’ve communicated better. – [Sonia] We have a space
that we call My Space that feels a lot like a student union. We use it both for a reward,
but it’s also open at lunch, where kids can play and be with kids. – It’s over, I’m winning. – And so, when you design
spaces for them to interact in healthy positive ways, they interact in healthy and positive ways. (laughing) – What we’re gonna look at
today is a very quick article that really answers the question, Why do we encourage ourselves to breathe? Why have we concentrated so much on it and why it’s so hard sometimes. – Rachael Hunt, one of our
exceptional educators here, has worked dominantly
with our kids that have some sort of learning
disability related to behavior. – New research published
in the journal Science suggests that you heed the advice. – All right, so what’s
the first thing we do when we read that article
and we’re annotating? We do a literacy standard every day, but we teach social emotional learning through that literacy. So, who wants to ready our
first paragraph for us? – Regular breathing. – We are reading a brief article on the science behind how
breathing actually impacts our bodies and our minds. They will analyze the
text, so they’ll annotate. We do a lot of discussion. And then we also do an activity
connected to the article. Who in here was stressed
the last two weeks. You can actually communicate to your body, I’m all right, man, it’s cool, by changing the way you breathe. So we are going to do some
actual mindful breathing. We practiced breathing and really thought about what the breathing made us feel. Breathe naturally. – I was getting in
trouble, getting suspended. This semester, I had a big turnaround. Getting better grades, because meditation, it helped me release all
that anger, annihilate it. It made me like, change. – [Sonia] She has said
these practices are great not just for my kids but us as a school. – We’re gonna begin just with
two minutes of mindfulness. (bell ringing) – [Sonia] The Nest is our daily advisory. We divided it into two chunks. Half of the time is that social
emotional learning piece, and then the second part is
spent reading a novel together. – We are going to dig back into this book. We wanna broaden kids’
capacity to enjoy reading by having deep conversations
about the subjects and themes that kids live out. So in the middle of page
100, you’ve got this cop who represents this abusive authority and you had a reaction to that. – People abuse their
authority when they get it. This boy got beat up by a police officer. When I heard that, it like, I instantly, it just draw me into it because like, I see, I
go through every day. – [Student] A lot of this
stuff’s actually happened. – Right, like there’s a lot
of police brutality going on. – The Nest lays the ground
for academic learning. It holds kids to higher standards
and higher expectations. It’s a time to build community, make certain every kid has
at least one individual in the building that invests personally in his or her best. – Our Nest is a family. I feel like I can talk about
anything I need to here. – We have huge accomplishments
around outcomes. Our discipline is going down. Our learning is going up. Our kids are coming to school more, they feel more connected. All of that is indicative of the things that we’re successful in. We get to recognize the
outstanding accomplishments of 18 of our seniors
who are gonna be signing full academic scholarships today. Looking at the data,
they’ve grown in learning. But far more than that,
they have become people who are increasingly more
aware of who they are and care for others. All of that is directly linked
to social emotional learning and to some of the outcomes that we want. (cheering)

About James Carlton

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3 thoughts on “Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School: Building School Culture to Address Students’ Needs

  1. Excellent workshop presentation by Pearl Cohn staff and MNPS administrators at the 2018 Coalition of Community Schools Conference in Baltimore

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