As part of the Trauma Informed approach to instruction, the staff at Learn4Life Innovation High School recently created a Focus Room at the National City resource center. The Focus Room provides a space to facilitate restorative processes for students who need a break to refocus or who are not meeting school expectations. In this space, staff assist students and guide them to redirect, recover, and/or return to an internal state conducive to learning. Students can request to use the room or be referred to spend time in the room. The referral process for the space is non-punitive and supportive; the form includes questions to help each student reflect on his/her goals and progress, internal state and process, as well as restorative questions in the case that his/her referral to the room is related to an incident where harm may have occurred.
The space is intentionally calming in design and has sensory tools for students to utilize while refocusing. The Focus Room is integral to positive behavior supports and provides structure and support to students. It holds students accountable for their actions and learning, while also helping them develop tools in coping, reflection, and practice that will ultimately help them succeed in reaching their academic, career, and life goals. Staff in the Focus Room use academic planning recourses, restorative practices, crisis intervention strategies, and trauma informed tools, such as mindfulness, to help empower students to cope, refocus, and problem solve so that they are better equipped to self-regulate and be self-directed learners.
Gabriel Nuñez-Soria, principal of Innovation High School, stated, “We have just recently started to use the space in our National City resource center, but already I have heard students and staff express excitement about the focus room. Staff at our Chula Vista resource center are working on a solution to find designated space for this practice as well.”