Creating Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments: A Process Guide for School Leaders

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Research on school improvement and brain development, shows a direct correlation between a positive school culture and academic achievement. Evidence also shows that welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments result in increased attendance and reduced rates of bullying and early school leaving.

To improve outcomes for students, in addition to ensuring quality teaching and leadership, we must be intentional about creating welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments.

Toolkit: Understanding Alberta’s School Act

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Revisions to the School Act as part of Bill 10 (in force June 1, 2015) set out responsibilities for all partners in the education system, including students, parents and school boards. All partners have a responsibility to do their part to ensure welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments.

To help all partners understand and implement these responsibilities, the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities partnered with ASBA to develop a toolkit that includes support for all stakeholders.

The Government of Alberta provided funding for this initiative.

UPDATE: Safe and Caring is continually accepting feedback on these resources from educators, administrators and policy makers. Please feel free to forward comments or requests for future resources. Posted are the most recent and up-to-date versions of these documents.

Toolkit: Supporting Social Emotional Learning

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There are many approaches schools can take to create more welcoming, safe, caring and respectful
learning environments. The documents in this toolkit can help educators, parents and other caregivers to identify the best literature, events, school materials and school-based programs to help children and youth cultivate social emotional skills and better understand life experiences.

These resources were created in partnership with WITS Programs.

Toolkit: Creating Safe Spaces Resources

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Safe Spaces is a joint initiative of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities. The Safe Spaces initiative focuses on three critical areas necessary to address discrimination and prejudice in schools: respecting human rights, respecting individuals and taking personal responsibility.

Working with Bystanders

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Recognizing the crucial role of bystanders in bullying is essential. Those who witness bullying and harassment have the most power to stop it. On the other hand, students who witness bullying and do nothing to stop it become desensitized to the harm that it causes and the cycle of bullying and harassment continues. It is therefore essential to create a … Read More

Intervening With Students Who Bully

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It is important to understand that students who engage in bullying behaviour need support just as much as those who are bullied. This can sometimes mean moving from a punishment approach to a problem-solving approach. In the problem-solving approach, the student becomes part of the solution. Instead of punishing negative behaviour, the goal is for the student to learn a … Read More

Talking With Parents About Bullying

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Ensure the school’s code of conduct addresses bullying behaviour directly and clearly describes how the school will respond. Consider identifying a key person at the school for parents to contact when bullying behaviour is an issue. Speak to the parents of the student who has been bullied and the student who is engaging in bullying behaviour separately. Use clear and … Read More

If Your Child Experiences Bullying

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Be calm Don’t allow your initial response to control your actions. Take action to stay calm so that you can think rationally. Offer comfort Let your child know you are on his or her side and will do all you can to see that he or she is safe. Tell your child that reporting bullying was the right thing to … Read More

If Your Child Witnesses Bullying

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Silence encourages bullying behaviour. Thank your child for having the courage to tell you about it. A warm, non-judgemental manner will set the stage for this discussion. Model caring and concern for others. This will serve your child well in the future. Stay calm and get the facts. Find out the names of those involved. Get the sequence of events … Read More

If Your Child Bullies Others

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Stay calm Don’t allow your initial response to control your actions. Take action to calm yourself so that you can think rationally. Be firm Set limits and give clear messages that you love your child but don’t love his or her behaviour – all harassing and bullying must stop. Talk about how harassment affects others. Impose appropriate, non-violent, logical consequences. … Read More