Focusing on Second Step
by Anika Pepper
The Crested Butte Community School is not strictly teaching academics. The school has also taken a progressive approach to improving its social emotional health curriculum.
A December 5 elementary school assembly at CBCS honored students for their impressive examples of November and December’s Titan Traits program goals of working on empathy and generosity. This assembly is just one example of how Crested Butte Community School has taken a progressive approach to improving its social emotional health curriculum. CBCS uses the Second Step curriculum, a nationally recognized program that has demonstrated significant improvements in social-emotional competence and behavior in elementary school students
The approach varies within the school, as it is important to address the needs of elementary, middle, and high school students differently in each of their developmental stages. While students of all ages are expected to “Seek the Peak” and are rewarded with Seek the Peak tickets when a faculty member or peer sees them taking part in positive behavior, the approach teachers and faculty take with each grade level varies based on students’ developmental level.
For example, a fourth-grade classroom might be discussing ways to handle disrespectful behaviors and habits of respect and kindness. A high school classroom, on the other hand, might discuss advocating for the safety of themselves and others.
Students across the board are learning about positive character traits, self-assurance, positive relationship strategies and anti-bullying awareness.
Second Step is widely used at CBCS. It focuses on four main concepts: skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. This is a far cry from the archaic institutional practice of “Say you’re sorry and move on.”
Focusing on the needs of each grade level, the Second Step curriculum approaches students where they are developmentally. According to school administration, providing students with a safe and emotionally healthy place to learn is of the upmost importance to CBCS faculty and administrators.
“As a philosophy our staff believes that social emotional well-being is just as important as all the other curriculum standards that we teach,” says elementary principal Sally Hensley. “In fact, it has to be in place before real learning can take place.”