This week I was home in Ontario. While I was there I read several different articles about the violence in schools, many of them were commented on by friends and colleagues. ETFO the Ontario Teacher’s Union has recently published the survey results gathered from their members. They found……
No one is arguing with the fact that schools today are places in which students, teachers, educational assistants and administrators are at risk of violence at the hands of students. Violence at the hands of students occurs in many schools on a daily basis.
What is the solution?
What if the Ministry of Education allowed school boards to use the funding that they receive in a more creative fashion so that could better meet the diverse needs of the schools within the district?
If school boards had more freedom with the funds that they received then they could provide more individualized support for schools. Not all schools are created equal.
What if at high poverty, high needs schools there was the freedom to create an environment that would meet the needs of the students that they serve and also improve the achievement of the students?
What if school boards had the opportunity to innovate in high needs schools and implement supports for students from traumatic backgrounds?
• Create supportive spaces for students who need them.
• Have mental health counsellors, social workers, satellite offices for CAS workers, parent advocates and trauma specialists on site to support students throughout the day.
• Train staff to work with students who are exposed to trauma and live in chaotic home environments.
• Decrease class sizes to 12-15 so that students could receive more individualized support and allow teachers to easily differentiate instruction and tailor their teaching to better meet student needs.
• Increase the amount of learning support teachers to support teachers in developing programing and supports for students.
• Increase the number of Educational Assistants so that students receive a tailored program that best supports their needs.
• Offer programs to support parents in managing and meeting the needs of their children at home.
What about the other schools?
Each school should receive supports tailored to their needs as well. In discussing this situation and individualized supports with a colleague I asked……What would your school need?
She indicated that her school community would benefit from:
A nurse….they have lots of injuries and concussions at school as they have students who like to play hard and compete.
A counsellor on site to support their students in managing stress and anxiety caused by situations in their home life.
What about schools that have a lot of newcomer families and children:
Community support workers
Individual schools would have the autonomy to create interventions, supports and programming that would best meet the needs of their community.
If school boards were able to be creative they would have the ability to differentiate and customize the support for all schools. This would go a long way in meeting the needs of students. We are at a tipping point in Ontario education, isn’t it time to explore alternative solutions to the increase of violence in the schools?