Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Circle of Security Professional Development Day

Recently, the staff of Sacred Heart attended a valuable PD facilitated by our school social worker, Hilary Campos. The PD was based on the relationship-based program currently offered to our parent community called the Circle of Security.  The purpose of the PD was to form a better understanding of how we, as educators, can attend to children’s needs and offer security and emotional support.  It quickly became apparent how the principles of the Circle of Security highly complement our school’s Circle of Courage, which is embedded into our school’s vision to promote a sense of belonging. Our participation in the PD is instrumental in supporting our parent community as they attend to the needs of their children. 

It’s helpful at this point to look at the research that underpins the importance of creating secure children.  Hilary shared that secure children are more able to:

enjoy more happiness with their parents/caregivers/teachers
have increased empathy
solve problems on their own
get along better with friends
have lasting friendships
have higher self-esteem
know that most problems will have an answer
trust that good things will come their way
trust the people they love
know how to be kind to others around them. 
(Circle of Security, 1999)

With the above reasons in mind, we enthusiastically set out to develop our understanding of how we can help provide more secure children.

The PD centred on the Circle of Security, which looked at providing a secure base that supports children’s exploration, as well as a safe haven for children to return to as needed.  The below diagram was presented to staff so that we could better understand the relationship between these factors and how they influence each other.  

The Circle of Security is pertinent to our role as teachers.  We want to support our students in their exploration of learning and in their relationships with others. However, we also want to provide “safe hands” whenever they need it.  Fundamental to implementing the Circle of Security is the ability to identify the needs of the child.  The Circle of Security aims to help us to identify the particular need/s of the child in a given situation and whether we need to follow the child’s need or take charge.  A big part of being able to recognise children’s needs is to learn to stand back and watch oneself and the child.  It is important to not just look at what is happening but to actually see as well.  I found this crucial to my role as a teacher, as it requires me to analyse, understand and reflect on why a student is doing and not doing something and how this relates to the student's needs, so that I can better provide for my students’ emotional needs. As such, it highlights the need for me to look beyond a student’s immediate behaviour to meet his/her relationship needs with peers and teachers and to connect with students on a deeper level.

A great amount of learning took place at the PD. Overall, the knowledge gained, in addition to our school’s current social skills program, will help us as teachers to promote healthy emotional development, enhance students’ relationships, help build resiliency in our students, increase co-operation and optimise learning. 

The 3 pivotal messages that we took from the day, are: 

1. Be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind when supporting children’s security. 
2. Whenever possible, follow the child’s need and;
3. Whenever necessary, take charge.

We would like to thank Hilary Campos, our school social worker, for her leadership and expertise, and for providing an inspiring PD.  I am looking forward to applying the principles of Circle of Security to the classroom.

Carolyn Perlini
Year 2 Teacher

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