Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) began the 2021-2022 school year with a heightened emphasison the mental health and social-emotional well-being of students.This year, M-DCPS is amplifying its Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) Check2Connect and Connection B4 Curriculum campaigns by creating opportunities for real and meaningful connections amongst teachers and their students.
Making connections changes the way students learn and fosters healthy relationships that will improve school climate and culture.The RJP campaign focuses oncultivating connections first and curriculum second. This campaign embeds simple and short check-in activities at the start of eachlesson and helps teachers get a pulse on each student whilebuildingpositive relationships.Through these efforts, students and teachers learn more about each other and begin to forge stronger relationships.
Talking and Listening Circles are other connection practices and strategies used atM-DCPS to build communities and respond to conflicts and problems that may arise. Schools establishPeace Pathsand Peace Rooms for students to use to work through difficult emotions and challenging situations by taking ownership and letting their voices be heard.
By devoting the first 60 to 90 seconds of class, both students and teachersare given an opportunity for their voices to be heard.This creates an atmosphere where everyone feels like they belong and are valued through daily Check2Connect activities and making a ConnectionB4Curriculum.Check-in activities allow everyone to share their hopes, fears, dreams, struggles, triumphsand unique experiences.
We at M-DCPS aretaking thetime to connect with students and learn more about each other beforediving into content instruction. Connection and positive energy in the classrooms will only make learning more meaningful.