Because cognitive function is reliant on how connected and supported a person feels, school schedules should include dedicated time for cultivating a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
“The neuroscience is clear on the connection between emotions, trust, and learning. Stress hormones from mistrust block cognition. Students respond to a teacher's focus on care by giving her permission to be tough and push them toward higher achievement.” From Zaretta Hammond in Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain | Edutopia.
Schools should allocate time to foster a school-wide culture of belonging, care, community, and growth for adults and students. This type of culture helps to ensure that students and teachers alike have ownership over their learning experience and school environment. Schools might tackle this through a range of structures like:
- Regular gatherings where connection is encouraged, celebration is central, and familiar rituals bring the community together.
- Advisory and advisory-like structures (e.g. homeroom) that focus on Social Emotional Learning, and chances for personalized conversations and check-ins. These might occur daily or weekly.
Once these structures have been put in place in your system, consider ways to incorporate more culturally sustaining practices into the classroom. NTN provides a number of resources around this including our NTN Culture Practices Cards.
Keys to Success: Create Schoolwide Rituals and Routines • Designated Time to Build Student Relationships • SEL Curriculum • Culture Building Protocols
|Shifts to Consider
|Center Student Social Emotional Growth and Reflection
|Foster a Sense of Community and Belonging
|Create Longer Instructional Blocks