Rachael Chang and Claudia, Kindergarten Instructors

At the beginning of the school year, Rachael Chang and ECE, Claudia, faced a challenge around classroom wellness. More specifically, they were working on developing strategies to support a student with behavioural needs. At first the strategies were effective, but as soon as the novelty wore off, the student’s behaviours became bigger and more frequent. “It was causing the classroom to become a very unwell place,” says Rachael. The student and his classmates were stressed, and so were Rachael and Claudia. They turned to Integrative Thinking to approach the problem in a positive light.

We used the Integrative Thinking Pro-Pro to go through together and look at some new strategies. We wanted to do that deep, in-the-box thinking to see: What do we have in place here? How can we make it new, and make it work?

Using the Pro-Pro, Rachael and Claudia explored two opposing models for supporting the student. The first was to separate him from his classmates and provide one-on-one support, while the second was to integrate him with the rest of the class. Then, they looked at the models from the perspectives of several stakeholders, including the student, his peers, parents, administration, and themselves. Based on this, Rachael and Claudia identified wellness as a common theme, and re-worked their strategies to focus on promoting wellness.

Not only were the new strategies successful in improving classroom wellness, the process of creating them allowed Rachael to really understand Claudia's thinking and what matters to her. This understanding deepened and strengthened their teaching partnership, leading to a shift in the way they work in the classroom. Now, they're able to be more supportive of each other as they support their students. 

In talking with Claudia, what was so great is that I got to know what was behind her thinking - what really mattered to her about children, and what really mattered to her as a person about how we’re preparing these children to move forward in their lives.

Debbie Stockton, Grades 4-5 Teacher

What Debbie Stockton enjoys most about Integrative Thinking is watching the shifts in how her Grade 4 and 5 students work. “I like seeing how they’ve become more empathetic […] They’ve had to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and really think about what that person would be feeling.”     

As a result, Debbie’s students have learned to listen to each other when doing group work. Before, each student would take the marker, write down their individual thoughts, and pass the marker to the next person.

“Now, they have one marker and they all talk about what they’re going to write before they put it on the paper."

By listening to and building empathy with one another, Debbie and her students have “created an environment in our classroom of well-being,” one in which everyone’s point of view is considered and no one is shut down. Within this environment, students feel like they have voice. “They knew that they solved the problem—not me or someone else—and they were so proud of their achievements.”

Since introducing Integrative Thinking, Debbie has noticed a shift in her students' attitudes to learning:

 
They come to school and they’re happy, they’re excited to learn, and they feel good about themselves. They know they’re going to participate, they know they’re going to make a contribution today, and everyday. They’re just happy.