The Pillars of Academia Antonia Alonso

La Academia’s school community strives to live the UNIDOS values each and every day. The culture, mission, and vision are built around and grounded in our four Pillars. Academia Antonia Alonso acts as a Compassionate School utilizing a Responsive Classroom approach. School discipline is centered around Restorative Justice to encourage reflection and unconditional acceptance in the community. La Academia seeks to equip students with the socio- emotional skills to become agents of positive change in the local, national, and global community through Mindfulness.

Compassionate Schools

Academia Antonia Alonso is part of Delaware’s School District Learning Collaborative, which is a group of schools who are actively engaged in implementing the Trauma-Informed Compassionate Schools Model. This Collaborative meets quarterly to discuss implementation, share effective strategies and success stories, and promote the overall concept of being a Compassionate School. La Academia has a Compassionate Schools committee (made up of Deans, a School Counselor, and two Teachers) that work to bring these ideas into our culture and climate.

The Compassionate Schools model benefits all students but focuses on students whom are chronically exposed to stress and trauma in their lives. Our goal is to create compassionate classrooms that fosters a compassionate attitude amongst all staff. By educating our staff to become trauma sensitive, it is our hope to create a supporting, healthy climate and culture at La Academia where students can engage in learning because they feel safe and cared for.

Implementing the Compassionate Schools model encourages students to have a positive connection with staff members, based on mutual respect. We all work together to provide a safe and welcoming environment where students can practice team building as well as developing their individual strengths. All La Academia staff strive to get to know and understand our students so that we can support their development in academics, social skills, and emotional regulation.

The Delaware Positive Behavior Support Project is sponsored by the University of Delaware, College of Education and Human Development. This initiative is based on the concepts of multi-tiered systems of behavior support and promotes the creation of safe and caring environments for children to develop academically, socially, and emotionally. This project focuses on equipping Delaware educators with the tools and knowledge required to create a healthy learning environment for students based on Positive Behavior Support (PBS).

Responsive Classrooms

“Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning. The Responsive Classroom approach empowers educators to create safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students have a sense of belonging and feel significant.”

The Responsive Classroom approach consists of a set of practices and strategies that build academic and social-emotional competencies.  There are six principles that guide the Responsive Classroom.

Responsive Classroom principles are:

  • Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
  • How we teach is as important as what we teach.
  • Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  • What we know and believe about our students (individually, culturally, and developmentally) informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
  • How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
  • Partnering with families is as important as knowing the children we teach.

The Four Key Domains of Responsive Classroom:

Engaging Academics Adults create learning tasks that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students’ interests.
Effective Classroom Management Adults create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning.
Positive Community in the Classroom Adults nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers.
Developmental Awareness Adults use knowledge of child development, along with observations of students, to create a developmentally appropriate learning environment.

The Core Practices of Responsive Classroom:

Interactive Modeling An explicit practice for teaching procedures and routines (such as those for entering and exiting the room) as well as academic and social skills (such as engaging with the text or giving and accepting feedback).
Teacher Language The intentional use of language to enable students to engage in their learning and develop the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to be successful in and out of school.
Logical Consequences A non-punitive response to misbehavior that allows teachers to set clear limits and students to fix and learn from their mistakes while maintaining their dignity.
Interactive Learning Structures Purposeful activities that give students opportunities to engage with content in active (hands-on) and interactive (social) ways.
Morning Meeting Everyone in the classroom gathers in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes at the beginning of each school day and proceeds through four sequential components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message.
Establishing Rules Teacher and students work together to name individual goals for the year and establish rules that will help everyone reach those goals
Energizers Short, playful, whole-group activities that are used as breaks in lessons.
Quiet Time A brief, purposeful and relaxed time of transition that takes place after lunch and recess, before the rest of the school day continues.
Closing Circle A five- to ten-minute gathering at the end of the day that promotes reflection and celebration through participation in a brief activity or two. 

Responsive Classroom Discipline:

The Responsive Classroom sets a positive tone for learning by teaching and modeling positive behaviors for children.  By starting with hopes and dreams for each student, the classroom then creates rules to help accomplish these.  We believe that children are more willing to follow the rules that they help to create.

Responsive Classroom uses reinforcing language that names concrete and specific behaviors, reflects important goals and values, and describes the progress of learning.  Reinforcing language uses reminders (question or statement) and redirecting language (direct and specific).

Responsive School Discipline approach is a way of creating a school climate that enables optimal academic and social growth in students.  This approach supports children’s positive behavior and helps them develop self-discipline and the skills for working and learning cooperatively with others.

Steps in achieving Responsive School Discipline:

  • Ensuring that all adults in the school have consistent behavior expectations of students.
  • Provide staff with professional development in the teaching of positive behavior.
  • Establish school-wide procedures for responding to misbehavior.

Responding to Misbehavior:

  • Visual and verbal cues
  • Increase teacher proximity
  • Reminding and redirection language
  • Logical consequences

Logical Consequences characteristics are:  Respectful, Related, and Realistic.  Some examples of these are:  Break it-fix it, loss of privilege, or positive time-out.  Logical consequences help children recognize the effects of their actions so that they may develop internal controls.  This is different from a punishment model, which uses external controls that make a child feel ashamed or bad in some way.  By using Responsive Classroom tools, we strive to teach children strategies for calming down, regaining focus and self-control.  At La Academia, we use the “buddy teacher time-out” which allows a child to take a break in another classroom and then return when he is ready to re-engage with his class.  We also encourage self-reflection after a misbehavior has occurred.

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a holistic approach to behavior that focuses on repairing harm through inclusive processes that engage all stakeholders. It shifts the focus of discipline from punishment to learning, and from the individual to the community. It is a response to wrongdoing that supports healing and rebuilding the lives impacted by it.

Academia Antonia Alonso will use Restorative Justice practices as part of our school’s culture, climate, and expectations in order to build a community that commits to engaging in processes that keep students safe. When students show up as full participants they are able to stay in a safe relationship with each other and the community. When a relationship is violated or harmed, a student will be encouraged to take ownership and then make amends to the school community. Students will be accountable for and will take ownership in the justice system of the school community.

The Restorative Justice model involves discussing incidents that occur in the community. All parties are encouraged to voice their perspective in cooperative discussions that include all involved parties discussing the incident in question and coming to an agreement that restores the relationship between the parties and the community. When consequences are carried out correctly, students understand and learn from the consequences of their actions because they were part of the process. Furthermore, consequences are reasonable as they were made thoughtfully. Restorative justice seeks to fix the problem, impose fair consequences, foster understanding, and adjust student behavior Through restorative justices practices our goal is to work with students to come to a solution rather than simply handing out a punishment.


Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating focused awareness. It teaches students how to focus in the present by paying attention to thoughts, feelings, and the surrounding environment. When one is mindful, one is aware of their body’s sensations without judgement. Mindfulness is not only being aware of one’s sensations, but accepting what is.

One of the benefits of Mindfulness is that it helps one to fully engage in activities. It allows a practitioner to gain a greater capacity to deal with adverse events, learn ways to cope with anxiety, strengthen self-esteem, and identify techniques to relieve stress. Research has shown that Mindfulness also reduces the impact of trauma and improves students’ outcome.

Mindfulness is practiced at Academia Antonia Alonso as an approach to decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness equips students and adults with the ability to cope with challenging situations, resolve conflict and feel compassion and empathy for themselves and others.

The goal of teaching Mindfulness at our school is to create a culture of self-awareness and well-being where students are able to succeed in dealing with stress, trauma and conquering challenges by purposely engaging in activities that will increase their learning.

La Academia is committed to bringing Mindfulness activities to both students and staff to enrich the school’s culture.

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