This Spring our Keep Oregon Well in Schools team co-developed and delivered calming corner spaces to fourteen classrooms at Ron Russell Middle School in the David Douglas School District! Funding for this project was made possible by a generous grant from Care Oregon, thank you!
Calming Corners were developed and branded by The Watson Institute in Pennsylvania in 2013 and have been adapted across the country over the past several years. These spaces are intended to address a longstanding truth of public education: that many of our students are suffering from high levels of toxic stress and anxiety, and many elements of the traditional school environment can trigger or exacerbate this stress. Toxic stress can lead to behavioral and emotional challenges that may interfere with the learning process and can lead to a series of negative outcomes.
The Watson Institute states: “A classroom Calming Corner is a quiet area of the room equipped with soft furnishings and soothing materials to help a student de-escalate when upset.” The Calming Corner is a support for the classroom students that need a few minutes to self-regulate and get ready to learn. These experiences teach students the skills required to get and remain calm and to stay focused during challenging tasks. The goal of a Calming Corner is that the strategies learned and practiced can successfully be transferred back into the classroom and home environment.
Calming Corners use a trauma-informed approach to help meet student’s social, emotional and academic needs. Ultimately, this system works to lower stress levels for students and staff and to
decrease the potential for re-traumatization in the school environment.
Each Calming Corner at RRMS is stocked with a guidebook for integrating the new space into the classroom culture, sample check-in/check-out sheets for student use, laminated feeling charts, laminated step-by-step calming strategies, furnishings for comfort and privacy (beanbag chairs, room dividers, floor mats, noise cancelling headphones, calming decor) and a selection of empirically validated self-regulation tools (fidgets, art supplies, mindfulness cards, movement prompts).
Check out photos below: