Big Picture High School Celebrates New Serenity Room

cut the grand opening ribbon last week on its new student-designed and student-led Serenity Room.

The room is an extension of the work Big Picture is doing to focus on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and restorative practice initiatives: Big Picture has spent the past three years working to be a fully restorative school, using practices to build community and promote healthy relationships to teach the social-emotional and conflict-resolution skills that reduce conflict. The Serenity Room is a safe space for students to relax, participate in yoga, meditate, build community and engage in conversation.

"I want us to make sure our students, every day, have at least one encounter with an adult who they know loves them, or an adult who takes the time to listen and to give a hug and a kind word. That is what the Serenity Room is about — doing the work to make positive influences every day on our students," Principal Brenda Diaz said.

The room’s purpose and design are led by the restorative practice student leaders, who call themselves the Serene Team. The team of students, who were already heavily involved in their school, took time to host student voice sessions and to gather data from the annual Panorama school climate survey to see what was missing in non-academic student supports. Based on that feedback, they developed a space to calm anxiety and to openly connect with fellow students with similar concerns and wants.

Nastajionna Beasley, an 11th grade student, designed the Serenity Room as part of her 2nd quarter internship project in collaboration with 11th grader,  Kasumi Bledsoe, who painted the mural in the room.

体育投注The Serenity Room itself has cozy corners, twinkle lights, and a wall from which students can take a Post-it note of encouragement. They hope they’ll soon have plants and comfortable chairs to use - instead of classroom chairs.

The room will host restorative circles, peer mediation, yoga, meditation, Serene Team meetings, and other social-emotional supports will be provided. Once a month, students will participation an activity called Family Ties - where students participate in mixed-grade groups of five for support and mentorship work led by students for students.

“From the feedback sessions with students, we figured out quickly that the kids need to be leading this important work,” SEL Leader Victoria Lavender said, “so we let them take over, and they have done a great job.”

体育投注Diaz and the school staff have chosen to focus on SEL and restorative practices not only through the Serenity Room, but through the actual curriculum.

This year, they piloted a new SEL high school curriculum with 11th-graders, implemented school-wide training for students and staff, and added daily student advisory classes. Big Picture is only the third school in Tennessee to offer Restorative Practices Student Leaders as a course.

But Big Picture isn’t alone within Metro Nashville Public Schools: and elementary schools, , and and middle schools are just a few of the schools using innovative practices to enhance social-emotional learning and improve conflict resolution.

“We are excited about the opening of the Serenity Room at Big Picture High School and the many similar approaches that we are beginning to see throughout our district,” said Dr. Antoinette Williams, executive officer of student services for MNPS. “This demonstrates that more and more school teams are looking at alternatives that have a greater emphasis on responses to inappropriate behavior that seek to reconnect and not further disconnect our youth.

体育投注“Principals at the schools that have had success with restorative practices are saying that they have realized that this approach must be implemented in a comprehensive way and not just in the classroom, in order to truly be effective. There has to be buy-in from everyone and a whole school change!

“As a result, they are observing students engaged in better behavior and having greater respect and courtesy towards their teachers and peers,” Dr. Williams added.

体育投注Since Big Picture has started its focus on SEL initiatives, referrals have gone down by 20 percent in just a year, and suspensions have been reduced to a single case in 2019-20. Big Picture wants to continue to grow its programs and partnerships to create a school atmosphere based on an understanding of what goes on outside of school.

“We know personally that ‘I don't care what you know until you know I care about you’,” Diaz said, “and that is the way we are thinking at Big Picture – and I think it is paying off.”