What is TOOLBOX?
TOOLBOX™ is a simple and practical metaphor directing children to the experience and awareness of 12 innate "Tools" that already exist inside them. Opening the door to authentic relationship to self and others, TOOLBOX naturally encourages social equity through empathy, understanding, and 12 skills or practices to navigate the complexities of everyday life.
It’s a research-based, community-tested Kindergarten through sixth grade social and emotional learning (SEL) program that builds and strengthens children’s inherent capacity for resilience, self-mastery and empathy for self and others through its curricula, methods, and strategies.
The power of TOOLBOX resides in the moment-to-moment invitation to the “common language'' and "practices" of TOOLBOX. A strength/asset-based vocabulary shared among children, educators, and parents that gives children their own solutions using the 12 strategies and practices of TOOLBOX.
TOOLBOX at Lockwood
At Lockwood, Toolbox is taught through explicit lessons, read alouds and puppet or role plays. The language and concepts of Toolbox are embedded in the daily fabric of the classroom. Teachers and students use the common language of Toolbox to talk through conflicts, challenges or triumphs. They use the Tools to self-reflect, manage their emotions, think about how they can positively influence a situation, and succeed in their academics. Students write and draw about how they use the Tools, and teachers and students alike share about the impact of using their Tools in their own lives.
Toolbox is a key component of our culture and climate at Lockwood. It is not only practiced in the classrooms, but also in connection with Restorative Justice and PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). Our Student Council members practice Toolbox in weekly meetings and share about how they use their Tools at all-school Town Hall assemblies. Parents learn about Toolbox through parent trainings, newsletters, and from their children.
The 12 Tools
“I calm myself and check-in.” Awareness of breathing brings immediate calm and time to think. It is a bridge to self-reflection that guides us toward effective choices and positive change. Attention to breathing is key to self-control, understanding, and genuine connection to others.
Quiet/Safe Place Tool
“I remember my quiet, safe place.” Quietness gives one strength. When we have a place of solace, safety, and quiet, then creativity, imagination, and self-expression emerge naturally. One way we feel safe is when we have a quiet, safe place physically. When we listen from the quiet place within our hearts, we make space to hear our natural wisdom.
“I listen with my ears, eyes, and heart.” Listening with one’s heart is the key to strong relationships and conflict resolution, leading us to empathy. When we breathe from a quiet place inside, the ability to listen to what we are saying to ourselves and each other becomes easier.
“I care for myself. I care for others.” Empathy is noticing how another person is feeling and being able to understand what they might be feeling. Empathy is caring about someone else. Empathy is the root of tolerance, kindness, and forgiveness. Turned inward, this becomes care and understanding for oneself.
Personal Space Tool
“I have a right to my space and so do you.” We all have a right to our personal space and the responsibility to give others the same. Noticing the physical space around us helps us see our own needs and how we may be impacting others. In addition, this Tool encompasses intelligence through awareness of our body wisdom: body language, sensations, gestures, position, posture, voice tone, quality, and volume.
Using Our Words Tool
“I use the ‘right’ words, in the ‘right’ way, at the ‘right’ time, for the ‘right’ reason.” By learning the importance of words and how they impact relationships, the Using Our Words Tool gives us a voice to ask for what we want and need. This is a skill we must learn. Using Our Words well helps us with clarifying misunderstandings and conflict resolution.
Garbage Can Tool
“I let the little things go.” We do not have to take unkind words personally (into our personal space). We can take responsibility for what we do with other people’s words and actions and how we feel about them. Sometimes the best choice is to throw harmful words away. Sometimes we need to listen more carefully to what is behind the words. This Tool has its origins in the martial art of Aikido, The Art of Peaceful Reconciliation. It is one of the children’s favorites.
Taking Time Tool
“I take time-in. I take time-away.” There are many useful ways to use time intelligently for one’s well-being and the well-being of others. When we choose how to use our time we can be more effective. Stepping back and taking Time-Away renews our resiliency. Taking Time-In (within oneself) to self-reflect leads to better self-understanding and more authentic connections with others.
Please and Thank You Tool
“I treat others with kindness and appreciation.” Please and Thank You are “magic words” that make people feel good. Expressing gratitude and giving thanks are basic principles of kindness and generosity. This opens the doorway to intimacy and caring relationships. When added politely to a request, the word “please” encourages others to be helpful and kind. Saying “thank you” lets people know you value them. These simple words create warm connections with others.
Apology and Forgiveness Tool
“I admit my mistakes and work to forgive yours.” A sincere apology opens the door to self-responsibility and forgiveness. It takes self- esteem and inner strength to admit a mistake and do the “right” thing. Using the Apology & Forgiveness Tool is a step towards maturity. Forgiveness takes equal strength. It requires letting go of anger and judgment. It does not mean we have to forget, but there can be a willingness to forgive. If we are still holding the hot ember of anger, resentment, or hatred, we are the one still getting burned.
“I am strong enough to wait.” Patience is the ability to wait quietly. Patience develops our capacity for tolerating situations that are not in our control. Children learn patience when we model it. If patience is not modeled, children may learn to be impatient, demanding, and impulsive.
“I have the courage to do the ‘right’ thing.” Courage is having inner strength and bravery to do the ‘right thing’ even when it is difficult. When we feel troubled by our own or others’ behaviors, it takes courage to use our Tools when others are not using theirs. Helping children to have courage lets them explore the unfamiliar. Courage, from Latin cor (‘heart’), means to act with ‘heart’. Acting with courage is following one’s heart.