Frequently Asked Questions



What is school belonging and how can THENCE assist schools who hope to bring improvement to their current approach or programming?

The concept of school belonging refers to each individual's sense of connectedness and acceptance within their school community. For students it includes feelings of being a valued member of the school, having positive relationships with peers and teachers, and being seen. What is being seen? This includes experiencing the feeling that one's contributions are recognized and appreciated by peers and school educators.  Benchmarking tools for school belonging often measures student's endorsement of the above mentioned feelings, attitudes, and beliefs using a questionnaire, survey or in-person interview. 
Key terms and concepts
Even though there are many benchmarking tools available to schools, understanding and addressing key threats that undermine school belonging goes far beyond benchmarking the deficits. When students are repeatedly exposed to bullying, microaggressions, or  don't feel seen, they begin to feel as if they don't belong in the school community. This can also lead to feelings of isolation and marginalization. These reactions are highly likely to diminish school belonging, and this has a waterfall affect on an individual's academic performance. Feelings of low school belonging in a student populations are associated with  higher levels of truancy and lower school graduation rates.
One major caveat to current approaches for improving school belonging is that schools are told to benchmark school belonging to 'discover' if there is a challenge and feelings of low school belonging. This generally happens when children already know there is a problem, and before teachers can pivot to improve school belonging.  This often makes staff and educators feel like school belonging surveys are a "gotcha" exercise for reviewing their professional performance. In another poorly understood senario, some benchmarking exercises and results are met with a knee-jerk circular reasoning that the students need more training on becoming  more of a community participant. This blame-the-student approach can go in two directions, in which disciplinary actions are taken on students associated with bullying, and isolated students are told that they are not making an effort to participate in school activities.  Still other interventions that address poor school belonging focus on the how students can better achieve better grades or scores on standardized tests. Some school react by adopting SEL curricula, this move alone neglects the necessary school preparedness and care for faculty and staff. 


Unfortunately, benchmarking and knee-jerk reactions do little to solve the problem of poor school belonging. Instead we offer an ecosystem-level approach to school belonging  improvement.  In reality, teachers need better support in their roles, and wellness tools for themselves and their students. The adults in the school often set the tone, as their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are the single largest influence on a child outside of the child's immediate family.  Indeed research shows that the teachers, coaches, administrators, activity leaders greatly influence school belonging. On a daily basis micro-doses of PD can not only counter poor attitudes behaviors and beliefs, but can prepare teachers to absorb deeper lessons about adopting better pedagogy, tools and management skills for amplifying student strenghts and support systems.  Adults are closely watched by students for their reaction when one peer is unkind to another peer. How an adult responds, and the consistency of their response can greatly influence each student's individual relationship with peers and the learning ecosystem. It is little surprise that the tools, knowledge and skills an educator has access to can greatly influence how they conceptualize challenges. At THENCE we orient our professional development to an ecosystem level approach for improving school belonging.
THENCE Subscriptions offer our solutions as a service in the form of professional development to school planners, faculty, and staff.  Our  ready-to-deploy educator tools, classroom methods, and skill-building competencies support teachers and give them opportunities for metacognition. As teachers face challenging situations, only a small proportion report that they are confident in handling peer-to-peer microaggressions, for example. Our trainings work to genuinely improve knowledge, skills and practices that contribute to staff readiness for the challenges that erode students school belonging. THENCE Subscription bundles include daily microtraining, tools, and mentorship for improving positive classroom culturecultural humility, and competency, education on common peer to peer mircroaggressions as well as classroom microinterventions,  strategies for inclusive teaching practicestrauma-informed teaching, the promotion of sleep hygiene, handling of performance stress, and deepening knowledge of general and student mental health and wellness to best support children who may be struggling.  To best understand our subscription options and our marketplace of workshops we urge you to speak with a THENCE team member.
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Title IX 

and Wellness

How does THENCE offer training that goes beyond the School Obligations?

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives Federal funding; this includes all public and private elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities. 
Title IX training is a form of professional development for educators and staff to learn about their obligations under Title IX and how to recognize and respond to sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, and sexual violence.  Creating a culture of respect and inclusion is not limited to the student body; it encompasses an obligation for the safety of all faculty, staff and administrative members of the learning community. 
Work-life balance
Schools may choose to go beyond federal obligation to ensure safety in the workplace. Meeting the requirements means working to create and maintain a culture of respect and inclusivity, going beyond the federal requirements may mean increasingly the culture for good work-life balance, psychological safety, and adding wellness programming options. As worksite wellness becomes an important priority to retain teaching talent,  so too does planning and activities such as designating safe spaces for wellness activities, or alternatively partnering with outside providers to offer reduced gym memberships, better cafeteria options and family-friendly work policies. To best understand our subscription options and our marketplace of workshops we urge you to speak with a THENCE team member.
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Diversity, Equity 

and Inclusion

How does DEI training help boost school belonging and wellness?
And introduction to DEI training is facilitated by our Real Reels which offers our interactive digital assets, tools and testimonials that help learners  understand the importance of valuing and respecting diversity among students, families and community members. 
Health and Equity
Our Training helps educators and staff members to understand how to promote a strong sense of equity and fairness in all aspects of their learning community. This includes understanding how to recognize and address discrimination and bias, and taking steps to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to succeed in school. This also#Solutions means that children can live healthier lives, with an improved sense of agency, and self-efficacy. 
Diversity and Inclusivity
Our training gives educators and staff members tools to create a positive classroom culture through inclusivity which  promotes a sense of belonging among all students. This can include developing positive relationships with students, providing opportunities for students to share their voices and thinking about their own thinking (metacognition). This means trained educators will demonstrate solid skills at creating a safe space for students to express themselves, talk about their culture and identity. It also means that children have psychological safety to make mistakes, and share their experiences. 
Trauma Informed Guides
In addition our professional development provides the opportunity to listen to narrative non-fiction accounts of children growing up with adverse events, chronic challenges and diverse expectations. Our digital dramas format and the accompanying TIGERS Tools are guides for adopting a trauma informed approach to teaching. They are also key tools for building competencies across the DEI and culturally responsive curricula. Lastly our training provides guidance and support for teaching students for whom English is a second language.
SABAR Books and SABAR curation tools
Our SABAR Books offers key curation guide for selecting anti-bias anti-racist literature. These modules brings excellent content and guides for identifying bias and prejudice in children's books. They also offer a guide for creating children-book reviews and for co-curating a book library with children that is  exciting, engaging and developmentally appropriate for learners' age and ability. Teachers, librarians and staff can skill-up on curation for their classroom, school or home library using the methods and tools provided in these modules. To best understand our subscription options and our marketplace of workshops we urge you to speak with a THENCE team member.
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Social, Emotional Learning  

Professional Preparedness

Are teachers being prepared to guide children in SEL?

While SEL curricula are popular and being deployed for young people in classrooms, school leaders may also ask how well prepared are school are for understanding the challenge of SEL curricula and interventions? Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly how  confident do staff members feel, and how well prepared are they to deliver social and emotional learning?
The red flags 
Our Training helps educators and staff members understand how to promote a strong sense of equity and fairness. At the same time staff are fighting their own battles for better pay, more flexibility, and better funding for their classrooms and student materials. Since the pandemic related lockdown and in the post-school closing era teachers have had to do much of the heavy lifting for getting children back on track academically and emotionally.  This means staff and continue to take a social and emotional burden.
Social and emotional learning is a life-long journey
Social and emotional learning is a life long journey and adopting a growth mindset for this journey does not always come naturally. Here we are shifting the conversation from how to help children manage their emotions  (self-regulate, become self-aware and grow reflective thinking), to asking what do school staff need?  More often than not school staff say they would like more psychological safety for doing the metacognitive work to build robust SEL skills for themselves, in order to best transfer these skills to their students.  We are here to help adult learners continue their personal SEL development all while giving them the psychological safety to make the journey applicable to building these skills. To best understand our subscription options and our marketplace offering everything from mentorship to workshops we urge you to speak with a THENCE team member to find the best solutions for your learning ecosystem!
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