In addition to a rich and diverse academic curriculum, Seven Arrows also focuses on fulfilling the social-emotional needs of every student. Our Seven Core values drive our social-emotional expectations by giving clear expectations on behavior and accountability. We are committed to developing intrinsically motivated, self-aware members of the global community. Our conflict resolution and discipline policy is founded on the belief that all members in our community are to strive towards being active, accountable members of society who are able to reflect on their errors and grow from their mistakes. Using positive reinforcement and natural consequences, Seven Arrows students are respectful and responsible young citizens.
Council is an important part of the Seven Arrows social-emotional and conflict resolution curriculum. The council program allows students to further develop their own voice, and their ability to express their feelings in a powerful, profound, and confident way. Each week, each class holds a 30-minute council to help students gain confidence in expressing their feelings and help them to take risks by talking about important or significant topics. Council often provides an opportunity for students to work out, amongst themselves, their 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. All participants sit on the floor in a circle, and comments are made only with the use of a “talking piece,” which is passed from person to person. The council is directed by the leader, and a topic or question for reflection is posed. 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, and has allowed teachers to learn more about students, and vice versa. Some council topics for students have included, “Do you feel you are part of a group, or not part of a group? How does that affect you?” The responses generally received from students are poignant, deep, and often surprising. The success of the program with students has even led to the facilitation of periodic staff councils, as well as parent councils.
In response to all the 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 mindfulness curriculum, a secular one, free of ancient cultural reference was created during 2012-2013. Faculty received an intensive professional development through the summer and the whole year. Susan Kaiser Greenland, co-founder and executive Director of the Inner Kids Foundation was hired through her successful program at UCLA. It was funded by the Growth and Enhancement campaign and supported by a current family. Our required book for the faculty during the summer was The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland and The Mindfulness Revolution edited by Barry Boyce and the editors of the Shamabala Sun. The investment of time and money to establish the correct curriculum was done through an in depth year long, professional development, one in which the training of parents and faculty coincided to develop a common language. Now in its second year the Mindfulness program will be continued through senior teachers who have requested further leadership in the area. We plan to have day and week-end long mindfulness retreats for teachers that have been identified as leaders and the Head of the school, ongoing teacher training and continued standardized curricula directly through the classroom.
As a continuation of our Mindfulness Curriculum the Spanish and dance teachers, along with the head of the school attended a UCLA weekend conference in 2013 given by Dan Siegal and Ken Kornfield, two leading researchers in brain development. Terms like Mindsight and the integration of left and right brain, western and eastern cultures were the essence of the themes discussed. Two long week-end retreats and daily courses once a month will be part of the training. This new training will be integrated into the Spanish and dance curriculum. Please find the complete curriculum as an on-site exhibit of this document. Mindfulness has become part of the DNA of Seven Arrows and a specific component of our social – emotional curriculum. Teachers use the many mindfulness activities on a daily basis within their classrooms.