Simply speaking with Stacey Roy of Classroom 211 calms you down. Stacey projects a confident yet soothing energy that she freely shares with others. Talking to Stacey, I felt enveloped in a space of peace and freedom – a freedom to be at ease with her and with myself. I am not surprised she is the creative mastermind who started and runs Classroom 211. Classroom 211 empowers children to communicate with confidence and compassion, which helps them resolve conflict and prevent bullying.
I met Stacey at Classroom 211’s office in the renovated Washington High School, fittingly in room 211. After a quick tour of her work space, we headed over to a coffee house in the building to chat. Stacey explained she wanted to bring her skills and talents as a curriculum developer and mediator to the classroom to help children. Classroom 211, the way I understand it, develops emotional learning programs that teach school children better communication skills, which in turn equips them to peacefully resolve all sorts of social conflict.
The Language of Communication
For example, she teaches children how to use the right language to effectively express themselves. Or, she and the class might discuss what it means to be a friend, how to make friends, or how to keep friends. Stacey wants children to find their voices and to be able to stand up to gossip and bullying in a mindful way. If we learn these skills as children, we can also bring these skills with us into adulthood.
Stacey started this learning program with a pilot project at Holy Redeemer Catholic School for third and fourth graders. She worked with the children for about 35 to 40 minutes a day. Now, Stacey is expanding the program, believing her program is ideal for K – 8 education.
Stacey understands that different age groups face different emotional challenges, and she adjusts the programs accordingly. A child in Kindergarten through second grade doesn’t really talk back, but acts out. Using books and literacy programs, Stacey helps these young children learn how to express themselves, so they feel like they’re being heard – so they feel safe, loved and needed.
The Power of Role Play and Affirmations
On the other hand, middle school students deal with bullying and social pressure from peers. Stacey works with this age group using a lot of role play to teach the students how to speak up peacefully and effectively. Stacey notes that middle school students face a sudden shift in school to all academics, with the schedule allowing little time for them to express themselves. These role play exercises give the students a safe place to express themselves and learn different methods to resolve conflict.
Stacey’s program through Classroom 211 also teaches children the value of affirmations and positive words. She told me about one exercise where the students write something positive about someone else in the group and put the statements into an envelope for that person. Then, each student reads what was written about them, giving each student the opportunity to read nice things someone else wrote about them. Words are powerful. And Stacey says, for some kids it’s almost like Christmas. They are receiving a gift of kindness and inclusion they don’t feel every day.
Discussing Tough Issues
Of course, we couldn’t discuss teenagers without mentioning social media and the large role it plays in their lives. In classes with older students, Stacey will moderate discussions about tough issues that surface in their lives, such as suicide. It helps the students to talk about it in an open and accepting atmosphere. It teaches them how to advocate for themselves while reducing conflict.
The Reach of Classroom 211
Stacey has some big plans for Classroom 211. While Stacey loves working in the classroom, she also can’t grow her business there. So, Stacey is developing a print-based program that schools can purchase for their teachers to implement. The program would of course include training for the teachers. Stacey envisions taking this program all over the country.
I am impressed with what Stacey is doing. She is teaching children that it is okay to ask questions. She is teaching children about the power of community. She is giving them the environment and the tools to increase their empathy toward each other. If we can learn that we are not alone and do not exist by ourselves, we are able to develop a stronger sense of self and self respect. We find our voice. These skills then allow us to resolve conflict peacefully and effectively, and yes even prevent bullying. What a beautiful way to teach our children how to stand up for themselves.