To create a harmonious school culture, you want to ensure that ALL students are learning these skills and using the same language and strategies. This also allows the teachers and parents to use a common approach to support the students. It is important to think about how you can embed URSTRONG’s school-wide friendship strategy across your school.
While we don’t like to be too prescriptive about how you bring URSTRONG to life at your school, we can certainly provide some recommendations. It’s really up to you, however, to determine a plan that best suits your school – keeping in mind that it takes about 3 years to fully embed the strategy and feel like your community is ‘fluent’.
Most schools either assign a team to take on URSTRONG or have a School Counsellor who’s in charge; they decide on the implementation plan and lead the teachers. (If there isn’t anyone guiding the ship, as you know, teachers will feel lost and ultimately take on a reactive approach to friendship issues – which is the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.)
Here is an Implementation Plan for URSTRONG Schools with some important questions to help you start thinking about your plan. As you map out your journey, it’s critical to remember that this is a whole-school approach designed for kids, parents, and teachers.
Some schools choose to teach Friendology 101, our flagship curriculum, to every grade, every year. Some schools, however, focus on particular year groups. Here is a very basic map to use to help you start to design your 3-Year Plan:
Designing Your School’s 3-Year Plan
First Year: INTRODUCE (Introduce URSTRONG to everyone)
- Kids – Festival of Friendship (or Day of Friendship) to get kids excited
- Parents – Language of Friendship, taught by a Licensed Presenter, to introduce the lingo to parents + kids + teachers
- Teachers – All teachers attend Educator Training and teach Friendology to Years 1 to 6 (or School Counsellor teaches F101 to all students)
Second Year: IMPLEMENT (Focus on Key Grades)
- Kids – Friendology 101 taught to Years 1, 3, 5 right at the beginning of the school year, other grades get a short refresher, assemblies focused on friendship
- Parents – Newsletter articles, overview provided at Meet the Teacher Nights, sharing URSTRONG’s Parent Resources
- Teachers – All teachers in Years 1 to 6 use the lingo and teach lessons from URSTRONG’s Educator Resources
Third Year: EMBED (Focus on Key Grades & introduce Mentorship Model)
- Kids – Friendology 101 taught to Years 1, 3, 5 right at the beginning of the school year with ‘Frambassadors’ in Years 2, 4, 6 supporting/mentoring younger kids
- Parents – Language of Friendship workshop offered again, newsletter articles, sharing URSTRONG’s Parent Resources
- Teachers – All teachers in Years 1 to 6 use the lingo and teach lessons from URSTRONG’s Educator Resources, new teachers sent to Educator Training
URSTRONG’s core concepts are meant to be repeated year-by-year to help lock in learning. Like basic math skills, you will build on their friendship skills by reviewing the foundational principles at each stage in their development.
In what other ways can you introduce, implement, and embed the friendship strategy across your school? Students learn best when they are surrounded by it. Be creative and think of fun ways to create that culture of kindness at your school. A few other considerations:
- Where do your students go to Talk-it-Out?
- How are you tracking Mean-on-Purpose behavior?
- What will you do with the data in the pre & post assessment surveys provided with Friendology 101?
- How are you creating a friendly social climate?
- Where do your students typically engage in unkind behavior (e.g. bathrooms, hallways, school bus)? What are you doing in those zones?
We want to ensure you are successful as you begin this journey with URSTRONG. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some assistance mapping out your plan. We’re here for you!