Many HISD campuses are utilizing brightly decorated “Thinkery rooms” that offer a calming period to reduce anxiety and allow students to create their unique plan of action utilizing the various areas in the room.
The Thinkery rooms are a product of a Social Emotional Learning initiative to be more proactive with mental health. HISD currently has 40 campuses with Thinkery rooms. According to Executive Director, Counseling and Compliance Glenda Calloway, the SEL department is developing a mobile Thinkery room to launch in late spring. The rooms usually have a theme painted on the walls, comfortable furniture, and plenty of activities to keep students busy.
“Art, books, journaling, rocking, or working with the SEL tools are a few ways for students to identify and reset themselves; each experience will be as unique as the student using the room,” said Liberty High School Wraparound Resource Specialist Eileen McGowan. “Our Thinkery room’s theme is nature. Nature is not perfect, and neither are we. Nature is beautiful in its imperfection; so are we.”
Other campuses like Bellfort Early Childhood Center uses calming colors and lights for its room aptly named “chillville.” The walls have yoga mats around the room, calming balls, and activities for students. Mark White Elementary offers bright, bold colors and encouraging messaging like “choose kind” as a call to action.
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm—not join their chaos,” said Bellfort ECC counselor Jessica Gomez.