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 rooted in 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.
Critical to the wellbeing of our students, Council is at the core of the Seven Arrows social-emotional and conflict resolution curriculum. The program is derived from the Ojai Foundation’s circle way trainings, comprised of contemporary circle practices inspired by and on the shoulders of indigenous cultures. Council, 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 personal, or pass. What is shared in Council stays in Council to maintain the integrity and 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?
- What is a clique?
- Why does it feel like to be different than your friends?
- How can I overcome my nerves when I have to present a project?
Students’ responses are poignant, deep, and often surprising. Most importantly, students experience a deeper connection with themselves and their peers as a result of this practice. Council is also practiced by staff and faculty.
Students participate in developmentally appropriate structured mindfulness practices and activities. Led by a Seven Arrows trained mindfulness practitioner, students develop moment-by-moment awareness of their thoughts, emotions, sensations, and surrounding environment. These tools, with practice, help students thrive in stressful situations. They learn to not only expect, but manage stress by going beyond the conceptual mind to directly target their nervous system.