If Brookfield’s smallest Warriors get the wiggles in class and can’t seem to focus, their teachers this year will have a new option: sending them to the Warrior Walk to work out their wiggles.
Brookfield Elementary School has established a Sensory Walk, a pathway attached to the floor in the hall outside the gym that indicates a number of exercises and activities students can do to work off excess energy.
“A Sensory Walk is for children who have too many wiggles and can’t spend the whole time in the classroom,” said Principal Stacey Filicky. “They do some heel toes, then they do tree poses, then they do tip toeing all the way around the loopy loop, hop from letters doing the alphabet, stepping, jumping, crab crawl, and tic tac toe.”
Filicky said other schools have used Sensory Walks.
“It’s been very successful, especially kids with attention problems and focus issues, if you just bring them down, give them a minute to get it out,” she said. “A lot of our teachers, we’ve done flexible seating in a couple of our grade levels. That’s beneficial and helpful for all the kids, but this is almost like a level up. This is for the kid that’s really struggling because he just can’t make it. It gets to where the kids can ask for it instead of acting out and disrupting everybody.”
If the Sensory Walk works, it will “prevent some behaviors that we’ve been seeing,” Filicky said.
The Brag Tag and Dojo programs designed to gauge behavior and reward positive actions will be back, because they’re “working for me right now,” she said, and guidance counselor Daniel Madeline, who also teaches at the middle school, will spend an extra hour a day in the elementary, something Filicky called a “godsend.”
“Guidance counselor, here, does a lot of putting out fires,” she said, such as serving kids who have issues at home, helping kids get into counseling, and talking to students about making good choices and how they should behave in specific situations.
The state has set new content standards concerning social and emotional development, and Filicky said she will be working with Director of Teaching, Learning and Accountability Adam Lewis to understand and implement those.
On the curriculum front, the state is again requiring lessons in cursive writing, and students in all elementary grades will work on a science, technology, engineering and math project concerning occupations.
“They’ll learn about a job, and then they’re gonna learn about a problem that they have in that job, and then they’re gonna try to fix that problem,” Filicky said.
The school has lost three experienced teachers to retirement, but Filicky said she believes their replacements, two of whom, Sara Parry and Lauren Shugarts, will teach third grade and the other, Emily Cricks, fourth grade, will make a positive impact on the students and the rest of the staff.
“I think that new blood and that new excitement could kind of build everybody back up to what it used to be like when you started,” Filicky said. “You get in a rut after a while and you need something fresh, and I think that these young ladies are eager and excited and their excitement’s gonna spread out into the rest of the group a little bit.”
She added that the new teachers grew up with state testing and are not daunted by the prospect of preparing students for the tests.