The unprecedented global challenges of the past two years have elevated the importance of making well-being and connection a key priority in young people’s lives. Many classrooms around the world are in a state of dysregulation, teachers are burnt out, and parents are exhausted and lacking resources. Captains & Poets recognizes there needs to be an infusion of energy, resources and support that is easy to implement and yields immediate impact. Our mission is to ignite a renewed sense of well-being and belonging from young people themselves by supporting educators with tools that empower a positive sense of agency and purpose in the world.
Captains & Poets harnesses the intersection between well-being and identity to enable young people to be their best selves. Common sense tells us that feeling like we don’t belong impacts our well-being. Likewise, when we are not at our best we are less likely to be positively engaged in our social environment.
We integrate research from Neuroscience, Psychology, Mindfulness and Pedagogy to support healthier classrooms and set students up for optimal success. Learn more about our integrated approach below.
Neuroscience shows we are wired to connect and that it is a critical aspect of our well-being.
Captains & Poets fosters a safe environment where students can be their full, authentic selves. By helping students to see that ”we are all the same because we are all different” they are able to connect more deeply with their own humanity and embrace that of others. We believe that self-awareness is not only the path to well-being but also inclusion. And when we connect well-being with inclusion initiatives we create sustainable SEL implementations and a more positive school culture.
“The Captains & Poets curriculum requires learners to bring their whole, authentic selves to the classroom and community. This means examining their identities and how they show up for themselves and others. Through this critical reflection, the curriculum promotes inclusion for all.” – Sheliza Jamal, DEI Consultant, Curated Leadership
An effective SEL program enhances the classroom learning experience. We know that academic performance is a critical aspect of student well-being and success and finding ways to enhance it is a key objective of SEL.
Teachers don’t need another thing on their plates so Captains & Poets is aligned to learning outcomes in literacy, literature, social studies, history, the arts, health, guidance programs, resource classrooms and International Baccalaureate (IB) program themes.
The student-centered nature of lessons enables educators to draw on the lived experience and unique perspectives of students enabling greater connection and engagement with the curriculum.
“Captains & Poets is an excellent unit promoting inclusion and a positive school climate. It engaged my Grade 7’s with multimedia and thought-provoking activities. Activities connect well with Health and Language curriculum and assessments.” – Grade 7 Teacher, TDSB
Creating a healthy and positive school environment takes a 360 approach.
A whole-school approach can seem overwhelming and Captains & Poets implementations are designed to minimize the heavy lifting and maximize immediate impact. Captains & Poets aligns to the curriculum, daily routines, and extra-curricular settings to ensure a consistent and wholistic approach. We also provide fun and engaging Drawing and Activity Books and a Youth Journal to bridge with the home environment so that teachers and parents can align to support student success.
“The Captains & Poets program acts as a formalized platform for integrating SEL in the classroom with a consistent approach across classrooms. It provides a common language for kids and they recognize it as something they all go through. It is a great way to address the social/emotional learning of young people.” – Grade 8 Teacher, TDSB
Studies show that connection is foundational to well-being, healthy relationships, AND classroom learning highlighting the complex dynamics in play in classrooms.
Captains & Poets helps students connect more deeply to self, others and the world around them so that they can thrive. We focus on the Superpowers of empathy, compassion, resilience, curiosity, gratitude and courage to enhance their experience and contribute to a healthier, more inclusive learning environment.
“Captains & Poets provides a blueprint for social connection. Children learn to contribute to a group and feel positive about the way they co-exist with others.” – Primary School Teacher, SCDSB
Student engagement is a critical aspect of learning and is facilitated by social interaction within the learning context. It supports a stronger sense of connection to the curriculum, the teacher and to other students.
Captains & Poets is designed to engage students in deeper ways and to open up opportunities for deeper connection to teachers, peers, and subject matter. The student-centered nature of lessons promotes student voice and self-discovery while providing educators with greater access, insight and responsiveness to students’ socio-emotional states, lived experience and unique perspectives. Captains & Poets helps engage and empower students in their learning while contributing to a more inclusive learning environment.
“It is easy to implement, flexible, and students will really enjoy the activities. This was a blessing and really worked out well at the end of a tough year as it kept students engaged.” – Grade 8 Teacher, TDSB
Every school is different and implementing a blanket intervention across schools can limit engagement and impact.
There are several important factors to consider in planning your SEL implementation. The Captains & Poets program is simple but rich and can be adapted to different priorities (e.g., well-being, inclusion, bullying, dealing with change, etc.) and themes (e.g., leadership, friendship, teamwork, career planning, advocacy, etc.). We offer a range of solutions including curriculum, keynotes, workshops and books to align to your specific needs and budget.
“Working with Captains & Poets was awesome! They were adaptable to our needs and priorities as a school and offered a deeply engaging leadership program for our students. We knew after the first session that this was something special and that we would want to do more work with them in the future.” – Coordinator, Student Wellbeing Programs, Upper Canada College
“The brilliance of Captains & Poets was their ability to tailor the workshops to our school leadership and character development programming as well as students’ individual leadership journeys.” – Director of Character and Leadership Development, Holy Trinity School
Cognitive engagement can be challenging when students are emotionally charged. Extensive research validates the ability of calming practices like meditation and mindfulness to put the brain and body in a state where it can learn more effectively. Neuroscientists have shown that practicing mindfulness has a wide-range of impacts including the ability to self-regulate emotions, be introspective, engage in complex thinking, and have a stronger sense of self.
While we do include Mindfulness and Meditation activities, the entire program is designed to help students be more mindful so that they may engage with the world around them in a conscious and constructive way.
The Captain and Poet act as an interface to mindfulness making young people more aware of what is going on inside of them, the dynamics at play, and what they need. This enables students to pause, get centred and respond more thoughtfully. Giving students access to their Poet and how they are feeling supports what Dr. Dan Siegel’s (author of The Whole-Brain Child) expression “Name it to tame it,” as naming emotions reduces their intensity. The Captain is then engaged to navigate the situation with greater calm and perspective.
“Students are able to connect thoughts and feelings with actions and to deepen their relationship with themselves and others.” – Dr. Krista Leh, SEL Consultant, Resonance Ed
Neuroscience tells us that attitudes toward our self and our perceived abilities can directly impact self-esteem, well-being and what students are willing to invest in themselves and the challenges in front of them. It follows that teaching students that their personal and social attributes can be developed is the foundation for setting students up for success.
Captains & Poets leverages a heightened sense of self-awareness and a focus on self-discovery to empower students to be their best, full, authentic selves. By understanding their innate strengths and giving them access to a broader repertoire of skills through the Captain and Poet they can see for themselves they are wired for success!
“Captains & Poets helped my students realize we all have the potential to be the best version of ourselves by focusing on progress and not perfection on the learning journey.” – Grade 7 Teacher, TDSB
Psychologists have identified intrinsic motivation as a powerful force in shaping who we are and how we behave. In contrast with extrinsic motivators like rewards and incentives, intrinsic motivation comes from within drawing on our core values, our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and our passions. These innate drivers can be particularly important in times where resilience and perseverance are required.
The Captain and the Poet help illuminate our inner drivers on an individual level and the needs and rewards that go along with honoring them. They help students realize they have a unique contribution to make in the world, that they can make a difference in their own life and the lives of others.
“The program gives students the space and tools to thrive as they navigate their futures.” – CEO, The Nugent School
“The program provides a lens for advocacy and agency around how we respond to things going on in the world right now.” – Grade 7 Teacher, TDSB
SEL strategies can only thrive in classrooms where consistent messages and practices from teachers are modelled and present in their interactions. There is also an important connection between teacher well-being and student performance that highlights the importance of supporting both teachers and students. One of the unacknowledged benefits of SEL programs is that teachers also benefit from bringing self-awareness practices into the classroom as they are more aware of their own emotions, triggers, stress levels and the strategies for dealing with them. A type of co-regulation across teachers and students becomes possible as self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, self-management and responsible decision-making are more at the forefront of classroom environments. As with many things, when it comes to SEL, we often teach what we need to learn!
The Captain and Poet provides a natural language that teachers can not only model but internalize in their own authentic way. This enables them to embark on the same journey of self-discovery and self-leadership as students. We offer a Teacher Reflection Guide (early 2023) and Professional Development workshops to promote teacher well-being and its positive impact downstream in the classroom.
“The most valuable thing I learned in this workshop was how looking deeper into our [SEL] skills can positively impact our work.” Teacher Graduate, Niagara University