I have a long history in using and leading the Developmental Designs advisory meeting structures known as the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) and Activity Plus (A+). I’ve led and co-led these meetings with student groups, participated in student-led advisories, and participated in adult-led meetings.
by Dr. Terrance Kwame-Ross
I love to visit friends and families in informal settings. I play and talk with and observe children and adolescents outside the formal school setting.
At a community barbeque, there were black and brown children and adolescents everywhere: a group of 2-to-4-year-olds playing in the grass and dirt; 5-to-7-year-olds managing to safely play assertive water games in the pool; a group of older children and adolescents horsing around, and small groups jumping rope and playing ball games.
I am interested in knowing all my students. I’m interested in their wellness and their ideas, their living situations and interests, because all of this influences their readiness to do good work in school. I plan and organize the classroom environment and content to make sure students have choices in their learning, hands-on, engaging experiences, and time to reflect and make adjustments to their learning. I bring my all to my teaching.
As a teacher and school principal, I took seriously the challenge of building a supportive school community. Sometimes conflicts from outside of school seeped into the classroom. The Developmental Designs practice Power of Play is an important tool for reconciling differences between individuals, and it helped me defuse a difficult situation in my sixth grade class.
At The Origins Program, we use Developmental Designs practices in our adult community. Our monthly staff meetings are structured as advisories, using either the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) or the A+ format. We use Developmental Designs acknowledgments and Power of Play, and we have a Social Contract that’s expressed as shared values around how we will interact with each other.
Our shared commitments are:
In my classroom practice, the Developmental Designs approach provided me with principles and practical strategies that helped me see and hear African-American and Latino students’ stories when I worked with them about breaking rules.
They would say:
Man, nobody ever listens to me! The principal and teachers just give us consequences without ever getting to know us and our side of the story. How can you just give me a consequence without even knowing me?
You don’t care about what we think!