Since its creation in 1978, the Kativik School Board has been working to provide quality education to Inuit living in the 14 villages of Nunavik. Despite the sustained efforts and incredible commitment of our staff, the academic success of our students remains a challenge. Aware of the social problems experienced in the region and of their impact on child development, it was essential to emphasize the importance of strengthening social and emotional skills, in order to improve academic learning.
To promote the success and well-being of our students, the Kativik School Board decided to put the Compassionate Schools approach into practice. The objective behind this project is to enable employees to better understand our students, to support them more adequately in their learning and to encourage them to develop their resilience. The Compassionate Schools Initiative is trying to raise staff awareness of the current and historical traumas, which unfortunately, affect the daily lives of many students, and of the way these negative events impact their emotions, behavior and learning.
Through this project, the school teams develop a plan to support positive behavior in their school in order to provide students with a safe (both physically and emotionally), positive, and consistent environment that focuses on the creation of meaningful teacher-student relationships. The creation of such an environment is necessary to nurture the academic, social and individual success of our students.
Given that the teacher is a major factor in positively influencing student success, Compassionate Schools offers one on one “coaching” services to those who desire support. Seasoned pedagogical counselors, who have worked for several years in Nunavik schools, provide support to the teaching personnel in addition to training school-based mentors in each school. Coaching helps to create stronger internal support networks as teachers’ strengths are identified and good strategies can be shared with others. Teachers can also learn and develop better practices that promote the creation of a classroom environment, which supports the learning of ALL our students.
With each year of the implementation, the Compassionate Schools Initiative evolves, becoming more responsive and in harmony with the needs and values of the schools of Nunavik. Adapting deep-rooted procedures and practices in the schools is a long process but positive change is taking place to the benefit of our youth.
All adults working in our schools have the opportunity, day after day, to impact the individual, social and academic development of our students and that is the mandate of Compassionate Schools; to provide the required tools to school staff members so they might help improve the well-being of our students.
“I find there is less fighting and recess is less hectic, the students line up better than before because we practiced it together. The students and teachers all seem to be getting along better and teachers are looking at the positive side more instead of just punishing.”
“I feel that one thing that will help in our evolution of a truly compassionate school is a realization and understanding by staff members, meaning all individuals working in the school; that the students that come into our building bring with them uniqueness and an ability to do well. We, as
staff members must also realize that many of our students also come to school with an “invisible backpack”, which can be filled with pain, worry, anxiety and fear, just to name a couple of things. Our teaching must be reflective of the children’s reality and the compassionate schools program allows for this to take place. Jaanimmarik School in my opinion is well on its’ way to becoming a compassionate school and I am happy to be a small part of this.”
Teacher Sec 2 and 3-Social Studies/English