Phone: (585) 786-8000 ext. 1334/1134
Degrees and Certifications:
Principal Kim Monahan
January...a natural time to reflect, reconnect and rejuvenate...did I mention re-engage? Well that’s just what our new classroom and grade level Think Win-Win spaces are all about.
You see, late in the year (2018), Mrs. Kohl (Assistant Principal) and Mrs. Schuckhardt (School Social Worker) spent time in elementary classrooms teaching students the ins and outs of the Think Win-Win space. A designated area in a classroom or grade level area, where students can elect to go to work through problems, difficulties, or conflicts (with themselves or others).
Utilizing a variety of different tools such as stress balls, conversation starters or self- reflective strategies (just to name a few), the Think Win-Win space is a student centered area. A place to resolve conflict within yourself or with others. How many times as an adult have you had a bad day at work? A bad day either because you were frustrated with yourself or perhaps your colleagues. Certainly, the same thing happens within a classroom of students.
The Think Win-Win space and the explicit teaching on when to use it, how to use it, as well as an up-close look at the tools in it, is exactly what is helping our students recognize that struggles and conflict are normal. Having the skills and abilities as a child to identify the challenge and be able to count on a skillset to independently solve your own problems - is actually not normal. It is nothing less than extraordinary!
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a student who has taken the opportunity to utilize the Think Win-Win space. Third Grader Willow Reagan was eager to share with me her thoughts on having the autonomy and skills to utilize the Think Win-Win space in her classroom in order to help her solve both internal and external challenges. Here is a summary of our conversation together: (In Willow’s own words)
MRS. M: Willow, what is the Think Win-Win space?
WILLOW: It is just a place if you are feeling stressed, nervous, or sad. You can play with the stress toys that Mrs. Kohl and Miss Angela left there. It also helps solve problems between you and your other friends.
MRS. M: How do you use the Think Win-Win space to solve problems?
WILLOW: It helps us become better friends because we are explaining what is happening between each other. We become better friends after we explain the problem. We go there to talk out problems. It is not the right choice to hurt someone’s feelings...or mine.
MRS. M: Why do you think the space works that way?
WILLOW: In the Think Win-Win space, people listen to you. They know what you are saying. When we were taught about it we dove deep into it. We really got the gist of it. We have been using it a lot in class. Right now, it is mostly used to help release stress for one person at a time.
MRS. M: Can you give me an example of a time that you have utilized the Think Win-Win space with another person?
WILLOW: Sometimes I stare into space when I am thinking. A classmate has seen me staring into space and told me to stop staring at her. She thinks she is being stared at. I wanted to talk to her about it. When we were in the Think Win-Win space, I told her it hurt my feelings when she yelled at me to stop staring at her because sometimes I am just looking into space thinking about my questions and answers. I told her I was not staring at her and when she got upset with me, it felt like she was putting me down.
MRS. M: How did your friend react to that?
WILLOW: She accepted it in a quiet way. She said she would try harder not to do it - and she hasn’t done it since. I think it works well to solve problems
MRS. M: Do you think your class is a better place since the Think Win-Win space has been added?
WILLOW: Some days, yes. Some days, no. Some days we don’t need it. Some days when students are unfocused and stressed, we need it. It is a student’s choice to use the space. Most of the time, one friend asks the other to use the space. We take about 5 minutes to work through problems. This amount of time has been good.
MRS. M: Are all the problems solved in 5 minutes?
WILLOW: Some problems haven’t been solved.
Mrs. M: When problems have not been resolved, what impact has that had in your classroom?
WILLOW: Depending on the people, it can make things worse or better. Most problems have been solved...I think only one has not been. Those kids needed to go back to the Think Win-Win space a few times. Overall, using the Think Win-Win space helps communication in general. People hear you there. Then communication is improved outside of there.
Mrs M: Do you think our school is a better place for having Think Win-Win spaces?
WILLOW: I think our school is a better place. You can go in the Think Win-Win space just to journal your thoughts...just write. You can express your feelings on paper instead of sharing with a teacher.
Mrs M: Would you recommend Think Win-Win spaces to others?
WILLOW: I would recommend Think Win-Win spaces to others. I think this helps kids get to know people better and their “concernings”. Using this space helps you be a better person. You don’t want to push people. You don’t create problems.
As I finished my interview with Willow, I couldn’t help but mutter, “out of the mouths of babes!”. If you want to know the value of something, ask a child, they will tell you. And, from my interview with Willow, I can tell you that explicit teaching paired with priority implementation in classrooms is providing our students with all the right tools in all the right places. A recipe for success as young people learn social skills and conflict resolution all in one. There is nothing quite like working through authentic, real world problems, with the opportunity to apply very important problem solving skills, to help our children learn, lift and lead. In my book - that is nothing short of a Win-Win!