Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LGBTQ Staff Presentation

by Anne Lodge

Last week, the Medfield High School staff had the opportunity to hear an excellent presentation by Colby Swettberg, Ed.M., LCSW focused on working effectively with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.  Colby has an impressive resume including a Masters degree in Education with a focus on Anti-homophobia Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a second Masters degree in Clinical Social Work at the Simmons School of Social Work.  She has worked to support LGBTQ individuals through her work in many capacities, providing consulting and trainings as one piece of that.  Colby’s resume is impressive, but her presentation was even more impressive.

During Colby’s work with the Medfield High staff, she shared first hand accounts of LGBT youths’ experiences in school and family settings, statistics and best practices, personal anecdotes, and solid action steps schools can take to increase the safety and support for all LGBTQ youth.  Additionally, she shared information on the differences between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.  Here are the highlights from that portion of Colby’s talk:

  • Gender identity - how a person feels inside and how a person identifies; a person’s internal experience of their own gender
  • Gender expression - the external characteristics or behaviors a person presents (i.e.: clothing, hairstyle, habits, etc.)
  • Sexual orientation - who a person is attracted to; it is about who they are, not who you are

Colby shared that gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation exist along a continuum and that a person could be at different points along the continuum.  For example, an individual might identify as a female, yet their gender expression might be more traditionally masculine.  This is completely separate from their sexual orientation.  

Colby’s presentation was incredibly informative and well-received by the faculty.  It is my hope that with a greater awareness and understanding of different backgrounds and identities that all Medfield High School students feel safe and supported.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wheelock Break Space

By Kathy Bockhorst

Thanks to a Medfield Coalition for Public Education grant, partially funding sensory motor items,   the new Wheelock Break Space has been a busy place at Wheelock.  This fall I have been able to offer all teachers the option to sign students up for one of several small group supervised break space visit with me, each day I am at Wheelock.  Teachers can sign-up different students each week or choose to send the same students several times.  Each visit lasts roughly ten minutes and focuses on making students aware of their ability to self-regulate.  The break space visits I run begin with the students identifying which “zone”  they are in (Blue - sad, bored tired, Green - happy, calm, ready to learn, Yellow - silly, excited, frustrated  or Red - out of control,  from “The Zones of Regulation” by Leah Kuypers).  The students are then free to choose from the many sensory items in the room, including a spinning egg chair, a tunnel, scooter and ramp, building manipulatives, yoga balls and a gym mat. Some groups have worked together to set up an obstacle course.  The Break Space is an “expected” space for students to be in the “Yellow Zone”,  feeling excited and energized.  After about 7 mins of movement the students are again asked to identify which “zone” they are in.  The lights are then dimmed and the students are  guided in a simple deep breathing exercise, thereby engaging in a strategy for returning to the “green zone”.  Many other adults are sharing the break space with students each day. It is a wonderful addition to Wheelock!