Character - Claim 2:
Building a strong, connected community of learners has always been an important value at REALMS, and from our earliest days we made significant efforts to take students outside their comfort zones as a way to build bonds between them and between students and teachers. From ropes courses to canoe outings and from morning circles to appreciation circles we instituted traditions and practices that were squarely aimed at helping students discover their independence and their interdependence, their confidence in themselves and their trust in each other.
Five years ago, two of our teachers began to recognize that our defined Habits of Work were effective tools for helping kids talk about and build responsibility, participation and determination and they realized that we were missing the opportunity to give students the language and opportunity to more fully address the affective side of being a member of a learning community. Unofficially a few of our teachers began to talk with students about Habits of the Heart.
In 2013 we officially "adopted" three of these Habits of the Heart, and we now call them Habits of Character and Community, or HOCC's for short. Building a strong community of learners characterized by relationships of trust, respect, and support remains a critically important priority at REALMS. In fact, becoming part of such a community is in and of itself a tool for helping students develop relational character. A strong community demands good Habits of Character, and strong Habits of Character help build a better community. Now we have more tools to help us teach students how they can be the most important builders of that community by developing as young men and women who act each day with respect, integrity, and empathy.
Habits of Character & Community: Our students become caring, ethical citizens who engage deeply in their school community and who consistently practice, reflect on, and analyze their habits of character and community (HOCC’s).
Celebrations & Traditions
U-Rocks are awarded to students twice a month at our whole school Community Meetings for excellence and/or growth towards one of our HOW's and HOCC's. These awards bring together our community and provide an opportunity for students to celebrate each other. Examples of just a few of our recipients are below.
Confluence - Going Away to Come Together
Confluence is a three-day trip at the very beginning of every school year where our whole student body is immersed in community building activities at a beautiful camp on the shores of Suttle Lake.
The purposes of Confluence include:
helping students build new and stronger relationships
introducing our Habits of Character and Community through trust building activities
building a sense of team within each Crew
setting the tone for fieldwork at REALMS.... an opportunity to learn outside the classroom about both our topic of study and ourselves
Crew at REALMS - A Structure for Character and Community
Crew is a class dedicated to character and community. Students engage in activities to develop their leadership, explore their values and strengthen relationships.
Crew Long Term Learning Targets:
I can form positive relationships with my fellow students and staff
I can make a positive impact on my school, community and the world
I can practice and grow in my HOW's and HOCC's
I lead my own learning by using the REALMS organizational and assessment tools (including portfolios and student led conferences) and advocating for what I need
Our Habits of Character and Community Definitions
click to download
Download the "Fieldwork Journal" for Confluence including Learning Targets, Agenda and Writing Prompts
Rebecca - participation (bravery and the power to speak her voice and share her thoughts with others)
Aidan - for excellent effort and dedication in science. His work at lunch and outside of class this semester are reflected in his performance on learning targets.
Grace - for strong determination during our crew service day in the Realms garden.
8th Grade "Songs", Performed at Graduation
Inspired by Gary Paulsen's book Dogsong, our 8th grade students compose songs of their own that capture their growth through middle school and dreams for the future. Students volunteer to read these songs at our graduation, and they are a powerful celebration of many of the REALMS Habits of Character and Habits of Work. Click the images below to download some sample "songs".
2015 Confluence Slideshow
The Altman Award For Courage and Perseverance:
At our annual year-end celebration we give The Altman Award for Courage and Perseverance to two students who have demonstrated the willingness and ability to surmount obstacles, despite the odds.
The award was inspired by a 6th grade student in our 2nd year as a school who crashed his bicycle a mile from the finish line of a big race, and rather than give up, he shouldered the bike and ran the rest of the course!
As a culminating expression of learning from our beginning of the year, all school, confluence community building investigation, 6th graders design and create a community flag. Inspired by the vibrancy and positive energy produced by colorful Tibetan Prayer Flags fluttering in the wind, 6th grader designed and cut a “screen” and silkscreen printed a symbol that represents them as an essential part of our community. We fly these flags together in our crew rooms, sending the positive, collective energy of your crew throughout the school, Bend, and beyond.
Click above to watch video with student narration
HOW & HOCC Crew Film Festival
The goal for the HOW and HOCC film festival was for crews to go deep into each topic and create PSA style pieces that highlighted the meaning of the HOW or HOCC the film is about. Each crew split into groups and made 5 short pieces, each with a length of 30 seconds to 3 minutes. At the festival, the REALMS audience and a panel of “celebrity” judges chose the winners.
Positive Classroom Culture at REALMS
As a small school with a diverse population of learners who benefit from clasrooms where active learning is the default, it is important to help students recognize and manage the impact their choices on others. This is a critical skill required of members of a true community
At REALMS, we help students learn from their mistakes and interactions in a way that helps them develop Empathy, Integrity, and Respect within a culture that honors their growth and their strengths. When students are asked by a teacher to solve a problem, they do so using a reflective process with the support of a teacher, administrator and/or a peer. After talking through the problem with a helper, the student completes the form (click image on right for full form) and then returns to "resolve" the issue with the teacher in whose class the problem occurred or the peer with whom the conflict happened.
Click image to see electronic problem solving form
Discipline Data at REALMS:
At REALMS we track our "office referral" data from year to year, however it is not clear that our end goal is necessarily a decline in office referrals each year. Rather, our goal is a respectful, joyful, and focused classroom culture and students who are developing as caring, ethical, and engaged young adults. Each year we refine our process for building and maintaining a positive classroom and school culture at REALMS and while our referral numbers have been declining in the last three years, we must keep in mind other "indicators" of a strong Habits of Character and Community.
Suspension is rarely a tool we use in our discipline approach at REALMS, hence the low numbers seen below. Similar comparison data for the District was not available: