Strengthening connections, building community: The Caring School Community program
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The Caring School Community (CSC) program, developed by the Center for Collaborative Learning, offers structures and practices that build classroom and school-wide community, while fostering students’ social and emotional skills.
A key goal of this program is to strengthen students’ connectedness to school through four core educational practices: Class Meetings, Cross-Age Buddies (activities that promote bonding between pairs of older and younger students), Homeside Activities (activities reviewed in class that are completed at home with caregivers, and then brought back to class), and School-wide Community-Building Activities.
Class meetings, in particular, are core to the CSC program, and understood to be critical for building connectedness and community in the classroom. Teachers are provided with detailed implementation resources for class meetings, from suggested types of meetings for different parts of the school year, to meeting facilitation skills, and guided meetings on problematic social behaviors, such as bullying.
Research has shown positive effects on students’ academic performance, social behavior, and social and emotional skill performance; as well as decreased conduct problems, and reduced emotional distress. Furthermore, the CSC program is recognized by CASEL as a “SELect” program and by the Canadian Best Practices Portal as a “best practice” program.
The website for CSC includes free downloadable resources that help educators to deepen their understanding of CSC, including PD session powerpoints, classroom activities and videos.
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