STUDENT WORKSHOPS

 

The Creating Space Project helps schools deliver authentic Social and Emotional Learning programs through the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability and numerous general capabilities.

 

Sustainability:

  •  A cross-curriculum priority for NSW schools
  • “More sustainable patterns of living are largely shaped by people’s behaviours” (cf. NSW Education Standards Authority)
  • People’s behaviours are shaped, in part, by an awareness of their own values and their relationships with people and the environment around them.

Aims:

The Creating Space Project offers Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) workshops that target the general capabilities required for students to develop into citizens who seek to transform society into one that is both socially and ecologically sustainable.

 

The workshops target critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, intercultural understanding, and personal and social capability. The workshops also enable students to learn and reflect on their own learning, through the development of metacognitive awareness.

 

Fostering a kind and compassionate stance both towards oneself, towards others, and towards creation is the foundation of Creating Space Project programs.

 

To foster sustainability, young people need the chance to purposefully develop a balance of

  • pro-social emotions, including empathy, that allow a compassionate sense of perspective-taking;
  • scepticism, a capacity to wonder and think critically about the truth of information.

The ability to synthesise both these emotional and cognitive skills allows for ethical decision-making based on the long-term wellbeing of environment and people.

 

How do we do this?

The Creating Space Project uses evidence-based mindfulness and narrative therapy techniques to develop this balance.

 

Mindfulness is known to increase self-compassion, which in turn increases compassion for others; it also increases perspective-taking, an important part of empathy, and decreases personal distress, through the practice of non-judging and non-reacting. Mindfulness is also known to increase metacognitive awareness, allowing students to reflect on their own learning.

 

Narrative therapy is known to creatively engage young people in developmentally appropriate ways, by fostering creativity and open-ended learning.

 

Format

Depending on the individual requirements of a school, The Creating Space Project can deliver:

 

A series of workshops.

 

One package available is a one school term 8 - 10 session program. A basic group structure consists of one hour:

  • Meditation
  • Check-in “Where have you used last week’s skill? Have important events occurred during the week?”
  • Learn and practise a new skill
  • Discuss the skill and its practice
  • Conclude with brief meditation

The number of participants is flexible. The optimal number is 8-10 however it can be tailored for a class group.

 

Pre- and post- testing is available, documented with a written description of the program and its outcomes.

 

One-off experiences

  • Interactive workshops, such as those required for a session or multiple sessions in a Spirituality Day;
  • Speaking engagements

 

 

STAFF WORKSHOPS

 

Mission

 

At The Creating Space Project, we believe that by nurturing compassion, empathy, altruism and skepticism, young people become adults who seek to positively transform society.

 

This mission includes facilitating groups for staff. Teachers and other educators are required to be, and typically are, highly empathic and compassionate individuals. Their role is unique and irreplaceable in the young lives that they guide. Their influence on the development of pro-social values is critical.

 

Aims

  • To help staff develop their skills of validation. Validation means compassionately acknowledging the truth in another person’s experience. It doesn’t mean accepting behaviour that is inappropriate.
  • Validation skills can be taken back into the classroom and used to model and nurture pro-social values within existing activities.
  • To assist staff in developing habits of self-compassion: Habits of self-compassion help to protect against burn-out and to build resilience. Research demonstrates that self-compassion is linked to increased psychological wellbeing and decreased anger, depression and anxiety. Self-compassion increases a sense of social relatedness and general life satisfaction.

Format

The groups are highly flexible and designed to suit the needs of a particular setting:

  • The Creating Space Project can deliver a one-off experience or a series of workshops, depending on the individual requirements of a school.
  •  Groups are tailored to suit particular themes, for example, the values of a school or a relevant issue.

 What happens in a group?

 

The framework used is one of narrative therapy and mindfulness. Narrative therapy facilitates storytelling as away of understanding and learning from experience. Mindfulness facilitates ways of intentionally paying attention in the present moment.

 

Storytelling is one of the ways in which we make meaning of the world. In a Creating Space Project group, storytelling is used to understand experiences such as prejudice and exclusion. Participants get the chance to tell stories of their own experiences and to practise mindfully listening to and acknowledging other people’s experiences.

 

These stories are then explored in various ways, including open-ended discussion and creative processes, such as art or drama. This exploration draws out and reinforces participants’ core values. This practice of making values explicit and visible supports teachers’ existing ways of interacting with students in ways that match their values, and helps teachers identify ways of promoting those values in a class setting.

 

Social Enterprise

 

A portion of a fee paid by a school or organisation to the Creating Space Project enables Ruth and Jodie to deliver workshops with marginalised community groups. As such, in simply booking the Creating Space Project, a school is directly putting into practise the values we are endeavouring to nurture. At the current time, this includes a mindfulness group for refugee women and a podcast, that nurtures conversation about values in the broader community.

 

Note: This program draws from Alfie Kohn’s (1997) How Not to Teach Values: A Critical Look at Character Education), as well as the body of research into developmental and social psychology.