In addition to a rich and diverse academic curriculum, Seven Arrows focuses on fulfilling the social and emotional needs of every student. Our Seven Core Values make clear our expectations for behavior and accountability. We are committed to developing motivated, self-aware members of the global community. Our conflict resolution and discipline policy is founded on the belief that all members of our community will strive to be active, accountable members of society who can reflect on their errors and grow from their mistakes. Through positive reinforcement and natural consequences, Seven Arrows helps students become respectful and responsible young citizens.
Council is an important part of the Seven Arrows social/emotional and conflict-resolution curriculum. The program allows students to further develop their own voices and their ability to express their feelings in a powerful, profound, and confident way. Each week, each grade level holds a 30-minute Council to help students gain confidence and take risks by talking about important topics. Council often provides an opportunity for students to work out among themselves feelings related to social pressures and conflicts.
Council is based on the idea of creating a sacred space where all involved feel safe enough to express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Participants sit on the floor in a circle and speak only when holding a “talking piece,” which is passed from person to person. The Council is directed by a leader, and a topic or question is posed for reflection. Participants may choose to respond to the question at hand, share something different, or pass. What is shared in Council stays in Council, to maintain the safety of the space.
Council has been a tremendous asset to our program; it allows teachers to learn more about students and vice versa. Council topics have included “Do you feel you are part of a group, or not part of a group? How does that affect you?” Students’ responses are poignant, deep, and often surprising. The program’s success has led to the facilitation of periodic staff Councils and parent Councils.
In response to recent brain research, attendance at many conferences on the subject, and much evidence from recent studies, the Head of School piloted a mindfulness program for a year. The curriculum, created during 2012-2013, was secular and free of ancient cultural references. Faculty members received intensive professional development through the summer and the academic year, funded by the Growth and Enhancement campaign and supported by a current family. Susan Kaiser Greenland, a co-founder and the executive director of the Inner Kids Foundation, was hired on the basis of her successful program at UCLA.
To prepare to integrate the Mindfulness program, our Spanish teachers, dance teachers, and Head of School attended a weekend conference at UCLA in 2013 led by Dan Siegal and Ken Kornfield, two leading researchers in brain development. “Mindsight,” the integration of left and right brain, and Western and Eastern cultures were some of the themes discussed. Since then, mindfulness has become an integral part of Seven Arrows and a specific component of our social/emotional curriculum. Teachers use mindfulness activities on a daily basis in their classrooms.