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Berry Street Education Model, An Introduction

Dr Tom Brunzell, Director of Education, Berry Street: We know that when kids are able to meet their own needs in healthy ways in the classroom that it's trauma-informed practice that informs our thinking and our ways of moving to help those kids.

Tim Morgan, Principal, Northern Territory Government, Department of Education: We have been successfully embedding the Berry Street program across the school for a number of years now. We have the entire staff trained from the front office, and it's a saying I use a lot, to the back gate.

The strategies of Berry Street Education Model across our school have enabled our students to take learning on themselves firsthand. When I say that I mean that they understand now and are able to regulate their own emotions, their own language and their own actions.

Dr Tom Brunzell: It's pretty cool to see and hear when students are using our strategies inside the classroom when they need to become ready to learn, but also students are telling us that they are adapting our classroom strategies for outside the classroom.

Jennifer Hazelton, Deputy Principal, East Hills Boys High School, NSW: The Berry Street Education Model strategies that have worked probably the best, being an all-boys school, we’ve certainly found that the boys feel the need for their ready to learn. So, looking at their scales and really coming in at the start of a lesson teachers are able to identify early on in the piece as to where the boys are sitting: are they ready or are they not, and what maybe do they need to do to get the boys ready to learn?

Nektario Stefanis, Head Teacher Welfare, East Hills Boys High School: It's really been a great way to start a lesson to get [students] focused and then they're ready to learn. They're starting to understand more about listening skills and knowing how to respond and knowing how to be a good friend. In the past, they're things that they assume they knew but they're learning more about that.

Tim Morgan: A big part of the Berry Street model across any school, I believe, is your teaching staff. They're grounded and they've moved away from almost sometimes we're seeing schools the battle of power that has been overshadowed now significantly by building quality relationships and having the understanding that through the practical implementation of the practices of Berry Street model that we can engage our students and again have them ready to learn.

Nektario Stefanis: In the classroom I think what's changed is how I approach things. A lot of teachers worry about what they're delivering but now I’m looking at who I’m delivering to. The Berry Street structure helps you deliver things in a more engaging way, I believe.

Jennifer Hazelton: The Berry Street Education Model's really shifted the way I look at situations. it's really created a positive approach for me; it's more looking at what we can do to bring back the student, to re-engage the student. The Berry Street Education Model has provided me personally with a huge toolkit of strategies that work. That self-doubt or that ‘I can't do it’ is turning into ‘Actually, I can [do it] and what I’m doing is okay’.

Tim Morgan: I believe that myself as an educator and leader within a system, Berry Street has helped me to understand the intricacies of students – what they need, when they need it and how they need it – [and] we're able now to teach and our students are definitely learning

Dr Tom Brunzell: Our goal is to help students begin to set higher expectations for themselves. We work with students often who have had a long history of struggle and they have lost a bit of hope as to what they think they can achieve. What we want is for teachers to create the environment of support with very clear strategies for students to enact that allows kids to say ‘I can do this’, ‘I think I can set this goal, ‘I have surpassed my own expectations and next time I'm going to set higher goals!’