At Eagle Rock School, We’re Practicing RCE Like our ABC’s

Picture this: A student abruptly walks off our school’s Field of Dreams (i.e., our athletic field, where intramurals are played), fists clenched and head down. A staff member catches up and starts to say something. Then she remembers RCE — an acronym for Recognize, Get Curious, Empower, that encourages the practice of an evidence-based mental health modality that all teachers and staff at Eagle Rock School have recently started to take to heart.

Recognize, Get Curious, EmpowerThe staff member realizes she is angry at the student for reacting to an emotional trigger during intramurals and storming off the field. Instead of judging the student or reacting in kind, the staff member checks in with her own mind, body, and emotions, and takes a deep breath. As a result, she makes a nonjudgmental acknowledgement of why she is feeling that way and walks silently alongside the student.

A calm conversation ensues, with the student talking about what happened on the field, the high level of expectations the student has for themselves, and the self-imposed pressure to ‘get it right’ all the time.

The staff member listens attentively, then helps the student go deeper by asking questions, all the while providing a nonprejudicial space for the student to explore what’s actually going on. The student admits to feeling insecure and needing to constantly show off or project a sense of competency to others.

The staff member then empowers the student to identify personal solutions and ideas of what is going to work for them to successfully climb out of the situation. Together they come up with a plan and commit to following through with it.

Recognize, Get Curious, and Empower (RCE)

The above scenario pretty much describes how Eagle Rock staff and instructors are incorporating RCE in the daily lives of our students. What prompted our decision to believe in this modality in our day-to-day interactions?

If you’re at all aware of how we do things here at Eagle Rock, you know that this is a diverse community, and that our individual relationships look very different, based as they are on backgrounds, identity markers, and other situational factors. The idea is to honor those differences while providing reference points in how to best support our students.

Because, let’s face it. life for high schoolers is complex, often emotional, and demanding. Regardless of where it’s located, high school is the perfect scenario for mismatched opinions and misinterpreted relationships — both in and outside the learning environment. RCE draws on several evidence-based models, including Motivational Interviewing, Attachment-Based Based therapy, Solutions Focused Therapy, and Mindfulness. Here at Eagle Rock, we’re buoyed by several staff members who fully understand the complex makeup of our student population and are helping the rest of us use the modality in our daily interactions.

The objective is to offer some additional best practices in education and personal growth to ensure that we are supporting students as best as possible. Put simply, RCE can be used when a teacher or staff member approaches a student with issues that must be dealt with.

Below, we break down how the program becomes successful in a residential high school setting such as that offered to Eagle Rock students. First up, Recognize: Continue reading…