We’ve been teaching the Connection Practice to school teachers, parents and children since 2004; my heart’s desire is to see it offered in classrooms throughout the world.
To make that possible, we’ve attempted to measure the impact of the Connection Practice. How do you measure subtle shifts into positive emotions and clear thinking that results in better choices? How do you measure the full impact of preventing an irrational choice?We found it easy to collect anecdotal evidence, but we also went about collecting the best quantitative evidence we could with our limited resources.
In 2004, the first Connection Practice program was implemented at the Elías Jiménez Castro School in Costa Rica. At the end of the year, ninety-four percent of the teachers reported an improvement in the quality of their communication with the students. By 2005, we had recruited a graduate student from the University for Peace and a doctoral program student from the University of Barcelona in Spain to evaluate the program at the same school.
We were elated at their year-end conclusions, shown in the table below, which compares the results from teacher surveys issued at the beginning and the end of the year. These are the questions that were answered by twenty-nine teachers in the second year of the program:
1. I feel peaceful.
2. I manage my anger internally rather than acting it out.
3. I resolve conflicts creatively.
4. I identify my feelings during conflicts.
5. I express my feelings during conflicts.
6. I can identify my own needs.
7. I identify my needs during conflicts.
8. I express my needs during conflicts.
9. I make requests to get my needs met.
10. I can identify the feelings of others.
11. I help others identify their feelings.
12. I can identify the needs of others.
13. I help others identify their needs.
14. I help others to make requests to meet their needs.
15. I use nonviolent methods in my classroom.
16. I use nonviolent methods at home.
Each choice was given a value as indicated below. All values for each of the 16 questions were added to give each question a total worth.
Then these numbers were graphed. Seeing that the teachers had improved markedly in every skill was thrilling.
In 2006, upon the request of our project donor, we left our first school in order to focus on one in a troubled neighborhood. One of our volunteers was doubtful about whether the Connection Practice would continue to have an impact after we left the Elías Jiménez Castro School. On her own initiative, she conducted teacher interviews there a year later. She was pleasantly surprised at her findings. The lasting benefits the teachers experienced in school were:
- a reduction in aggression and violence
- intolerance declined and conflicts decreased
- students resolved conflicts by themselves
- the Connection Practice had impacted the whole school
The lasting benefits teachers experienced in their personal lives were:
- improvement in their self-esteem
- better communication with others
- greater empathy for self and others
Outside evaluators continued to assess our Costa Rican program each year. One study showed that misconduct reports were cut almost in half. Another study indicated that relationships among teachers and with the principal improved significantly.
Our goal is to provide a scholarship for any willing teacher or parent who needs this support in order to learn the practice. A portion of the profits from our business courses help us create and sustain these programs.