Leigh McGhee

Brookwood Elementary, Brookwood AL

Participate in the Summer Institute for Conscious Discipline in Columbia, SC, to learn the evidence-based, trauma-informed approach to self-regulation and empower students with skills that will carry them through the rest of their lives.

Where I've Been

  • *OR* Hermiston, Oregon
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • *OR* Arlington, Texas

My Fellowship in Images

My co-worker and I were able to meet and learn from Dr. Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline.
We connected with our table group members and leader, Cristin, by experiencing for ourselves what it is like to create a school family environment where everyone contributes something significant.
We celebrated with new friends at a dinner hosted by Conscious Discipline.
We got to meet Schubert and Sophie whose books help our students understand how to deal with big emotions they experience!
The Brain State Posters, Bailey Bear, and Schubert Puppet provide fun and interactive ways to engage students in connecting and developing skills for self-regulation.
The Safe Place in my classroom for students to practice and learn self-regulation skills.

Igniting Personal and Professional Growth

What changed as a result of your fellowship? Why was it vital for you to pursue this particular opportunity/experience? What learning gaps (yours and/or your students’) were/will be filled as a result of your fellowship?

Attending the Conscious Discipline Summer Institute in Orlando, FL has taught me that I need to be the change I want to see by starting with myself. This experience has provided me a better understanding of how the brain works, taught me how to maintain composure, and how to respond to difficult situations so that I may learn more effectively. My view changed so that I now see conflict as a call for help and an opportunity to teach students new skills to handle upset.

How do you see your teaching evolving after your fellowship? Your students’ learning?

I will teach students to identify ways to keep others safe, to recognize acts of kindness, and to wish each other well. I will use activities to promote connection daily and model the steps of self-regulation to keep calm during times of upset. I will guide students to create a school family environment through safety, connection and problem solving.

What were some unplanned or unexpected experiences or outcomes of your fellowship?

I was amazed at how connected we became to so many individuals, even though we were in a large group setting, at the Conscious Discipline Summer Institute. Unexpectedly, The Satellite Institutes we planned to attend were completely full by the time we received our grant, but after emailing Conscious Discipline, they secured us two spots to attend the Institute where Dr. Bailey would be presenting live in Orlando, FL.

Impacting Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your students learn differently because of your new knowledge or skills?

My students will begin their day with a Brain Smart Start which includes an activity that unites, an activity to disengage stress, an activity to connect, and an activity to commit. They will learn the steps for self-regulation in The Safe Place, and experience connection through I Love You Rituals. Students will become aware of their value and significant contribution to our class family as we create class agreements to keep each other safe and class commitments to help each other learn.

What specific events, projects or deliverables will your students experience related to your fellowship?

Take Home Book Buddy Bags made with a set of Schubert and Sophie books will include the Schubert and Sophie puppets, providing opportunity for connection and skill building activities with families. Students will be ensured one on one connection activities through Baby Doll Circle Time, and practice self-regulation skills using the Feeling Buddies Curriculum. Conscious Discipline materials in Spanish, monthly newsletters, and family conferences help us reach out to more students and families.

How, specifically, will your fellowship extend beyond your classroom? (e.g. families, school-at-large, afterschool groups, surrounding community, colleagues, etc.)

By purchasing a Site License: Understanding Trauma Webinar we can offer video sessions with Dr. Becky Bailey, a workbook, and downloads and resources for training and team building at our school. At Family Orientation we shared the Brain State Model and Steps for Self-Regulation. Parent Nights allow students to share with families the Schubert and Sophie books. A weekly book study based on Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline was offered to parents in the community this summer.

Inspiring the Future

Why was this opportunity transformative for your teaching on a macro-level?

It's a continual process of learning the Seven Powers and Seven Skills of Discipline through safety, connection, and problem-solving activities. This experience changed the way I view conflict and helped me further develop the skills I need to keep my composure and handle conflict as a teacher in the classroom. I will continue to transform and grow as I learn to apply these in my own life and classroom.

Why do students benefit from this type of teacher learning?

Students learn that they are valued and are a vital part of the School Family and the community as they grow up. As they learn to look for ways to encourage others, to keep each other safe, and be helpful they develop the skills they are missing within themselves. They are empowered to handle a range of feelings, and improve impulse control, social skills and character while building authentic relationships which carries over from school to home and into the community.

How would you describe to a friend or grant funder the fundamental ways in which your fellowship changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

The FFT Grant provided a hands on, personal growth, life changing experience for me as a teacher outside of the classroom. It provided me with the opportunity to meet other professionals in my field that share the same passion for teaching students and to learn from their experiences and knowledge as well. By being afforded the opportunity to go outside the walls of the classroom, I can now bring back a wealth of knowledge and renewed determination to equip my students with what I've learned.