Character: Claim 2
Channel View School for Research students take responsibility for improving school culture.
Channel View School for Research (CVSR) focuses on ethical behavior because we see this as an investment in student achievement. Channel View defines an ethical student as one who not only has strong morals, but also has a desire to improve both the school community and the outside world. Channel View’s vision of how a student becomes an ethical person comes directly from the Design Principles: Primacy of Self Discovery; Responsibility for Learning; Empathy and Caring; Diversity and Inclusion; and Service and Compassion. Former CVSR students used these principles in creating the 15 Words to Live By (our code of character), which includes: Potential, Achievement, Tolerance, Kindness, and Honesty. Students take part in Crew and school-wide experiences that focus on the Words to Live By.
Channel View students are taught how to take responsibility for their actions. The practices and programs that are in place teach students how their actions affect our school’s culture, and how to be responsible for their actions and behaviors.
When students enroll at Channel View, they are immediately made aware that they have the potential to achieve college and career readiness, and that they have a responsibility to fulfill that potential by being accountable for their learning. The EL Education Core Practice of fostering Habits of Work and Learning is a central component of Channel View’s school culture. These habits include “I can practice self-advocacy skills by taking responsibility for my education,” and “I can help members in my school and community.”
In addition, they learn that Channel View students embrace the personal characteristics of honesty, manners, and respect. With this personal foundation established, each student then encounters the second phase of his or her development into an ethical person: to employ one’s personal strengths to both include and serve others. This phase begins by helping to improve school culture.
Students promote school culture by participating in the Restorative Practices program. This program is a powerful approach of discipline that allows students to grow socially and emotionally by focusing on repairing harm through an inclusive process that engages all stakeholders. Our students have learned leadership, conflict resolution, and communication skills. These students have displayed empathy, respect, and compassion within school and community settings. One twelfth-grade participant shared, “being the person someone can speak to when they are having trouble was great . . . they felt like they had no one to speak to and [I helped] them trust me in a safe environment.”
Another program that fosters improving school culture is the “Leaders of Our Peers” (LOOP) mentoring program. Student mentors have taken responsibility and become positive and influential role models for Middle School students. Students participating in the mentoring program have contributed to sustaining our current practices that support student agency and self-efficacy.
An eleventh-grade participant explained that she helped “support kids come to a mutual understanding after conflicts instead of having them end up fighting or be sent to detention. After mediations the youth that I helped would now wave and say hi to me in the halls, if they ever needed anything I would be there for them . . . I am their older sister in helping them transition into high school.”
Another eleventh grader shared, “I had to attend a sixth-grade Crew and assist the Crew leader with activities and any lessons that had to be taught. From this I was able to connect with the students and make them feel comfortable enough to talk to me about any issues or accomplishments they have experienced. Moreover, I also learned how to communicate with other students through mediation meetings . . . Through this I developed emotional intelligence, listening skills, and a reasonable sense of fairness.” All LOOP mentors valued the experience and discovered that they not only helped the Middle School students, but they also developed their own leadership and communication skills.
Character Learning Targets – students aim to build their character traits through Service, Trust, Accountability, and Responsibility (STAR).
Click on each letter to view the related learning targets.
Evidence 1: Facilitating Restorative Practices
Channel View believes in the importance of explicitly teaching conflict resolution and problem solving and has over 100 students trained to utilize Restorative Practices. Restorative Circles have become a symbol of our school’s culture. Students lead Restorative Circles in Crew to build community, restore or repair a situation, and create an environment of support and trust. The Restorative Practices program has taught students to be accountable for their actions by providing opportunities for them to understand the effects their actions have on others. It also assists them in developing skills that will make them more productive and competent citizens.
Students leading Restorative Circles
Additionally, students are trained in Peer Mediation, which is used when conflicts arise between students. Students trained in Peer Mediation lead the conversation, allowing students to view the situation through their peers’ perspective rather than that of an adult.
Another Restorative Practice program at our school involves a partnership with Queens Law Associates (QLA). Lawyers visit Channel View to work with a group of students on implementing a Youth Court. Students are solely responsible for conducting hearings for their peers and determining the consequences.
Youth Court Training
The following charts demonstrate an increase in the number of students leading Restorative Practices over the last three years.
The following student feedback sheets from students involved in the Restorative Circle training demonstrates its impact on student leaders.
The following video of students talking about their involvement in leading Channel View Restorative Practices demonstrate their perspectives on how they are improving their school culture.
Evidence 2: Peer Mentoring Program
The Peer Mentoring Program enables students to support the social and emotional well-being of their classmates. These programs emphasize EL Core Practice to explicitly teach team building, conflict resolution, problem solving, and personal communication skills. This program has afforded students an opportunity to develop strong leadership skills. The High School Mentors are trained in team building and communication, and use these tools when interacting with their mentees. These fundamental skills have allowed our mentors to foster positive interactions with their peers and teachers.
At the program’s inception, we had 22 LOOP leaders. After the program’s successful first year, the number of students participating increased over 40%. High School Mentors are able to develop leadership skills through the program, which allows them to “build a better world” in school, in their community, and hopefully throughout their lives.
Feedback from the student focus groups reflect that mentees and middle school students feel more comfortable attending a 6-12 school because of the positive interactions they have with the mentors. Additionally, students feel less intimidated sharing hallways, the auditorium, the cafeteria, and classroom spaces with older students. Mentees also develop a positive attitude about supporting the culture of our school community.
Evidence 3: School Wide Discipline Data
Channel View is committed to supporting our students in rejecting behaviors that disrupt a respectful environment. Channel View has built Empathy and Caring structures, such as the 15 Words to Live By, Restorative Practices, and Peer Mentoring, which have had a positive effect on our school community. Because we implemented these student-led programs, our school-wide discipline data has improved over the past 3 years. Our discipline data has shown a reduction in the number of school suspensions by 50%. We believe that making Restorative Practices a core component of our schools’ disciplinary norm has contributed to the decline in suspensions. Student-Led Restorative Circles and Peer Mediations have allowed students to take ownership of their behavior and consider how it affects the school community.
The chart below is a snapshot of discipline data over the past three school years. Principal Suspensions, Class Removals, and Superintendent Suspensions have decreased each year. While other NYC schools saw a 5.4% increase in suspension rates during the 2017-2018 school year, Channel View saw a marked decrease. We believe that Channel View’s focus on students becoming ethical people has led to this improvement in school-wide discipline numbers; our students take responsibility for themselves and others, take on leadership roles, and work to improve their school culture.
Expansion of Middle School Mentors / Rising Tides
& Pillars of Kindness Programs
Due to the overwhelming success of Peer Mentoring and positive feedback from students and staff, we have expanded the program to include middle school mentors. We now have thirty 8th-grade students who have been trained in team building and communication. 8th grade Mentors are partnered up with 6th grade students, and help them assimilate to the staff, students, and school culture. Based on feedback from focus groups, Mentors feel more responsible, believe they are helping others, and have more self-awareness. As a result, they are able to guide others to explore and develop themselves. This program model has helped both the mentors and the mentees feel more connected to each other, allowing them to develop a positive attitude towards their school and peers.
Middle School Mentors currently mentor our 6th graders once a week. Moving forward, they will mentor 7th graders as well. We are confident that utilizing these student-led programs will positively impact and our students and encourage them to take responsibility for improving our school culture.
“Pillars of Kindness”
Channel View supports students in becoming ethical people by providing many opportunities to practice empathy, honesty, kindness, and compassion. In 1997, students and staff created “The 15 Words to Live By” as part of our Rising Tides Program. Twenty years later, we still believe that students and staff develop character by following the “15 Words.” The Rising Tides Program has strengthened our students’ character by naming and honoring ethical behavior. This year, our students assisted in the development of an additional tradition that honors our culture of respect, honesty, and inclusion; a program called “Pillars of Kindness” designed to encourage students to acknowledge their peers’ kind behavior. The program helps our students develop into ethical citizens by celebrating teachers and students who treat others with fairness and compassion and act as "upstanders." Students are responsible for nominating their peers, who are recognized on a display in the main hallway. Students assisted in the creation and design of the “Pillars of Kindness” wall.
Attached is an explanation of this current work in supporting student efforts to improve school culture: An explanation of CVSR Pillars of Kindness
The following documents were designed to support our students in identifying and celebrating ethical behavior: