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By Dr. Harry Tennant

Edclicking

by Harry Tennant
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Recent Posts
Posts 1 - 5 of 5

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Success Story: 7 Habits of Happy Kids

I called Dontae Wilson, Principal of Robert B. Pollock Elementary School. They've been working with Behavior Manager for several years and I noticed a significant change in their data over the past two years. Office referrals were reduced by 52% and out-of-placement consequences were reduced by 93%. I asked Mr. Wilson what they were doing right to see such improvements.

DW: A lot of the improvement is teachers looking at ways to engage kids differently. During that time we started with Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He've had a lot of teachers working with kids on those social and emotional skills. That's really been helpful. We also hired an additional counselor this year.

So it's a combination of things. The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, let's call it...from 8:30 to 9:00 our teachers teach the prosocial skills you want the kids to have. That sets the tone for the day.

Obviously, sometimes referrals still have to occur. Teachers often fill out a referral for documentation. They may handle the situation but they're letting us know this is what they've done. That's helpful because in a lot of cases it doesn't require additional administrator action. That's good too because the teachers are taking ownership and responsibility. They develop a better relationship with the kids.

Edclick: So, the teaching of the 7 Habits...that's what started in 2015?

DW: Yes, that was our first year of it. As you might imagine, we got better at it. Overall, we've definitely seen a lot of progress since that first year. For us, the big message to the teachers is, if something happens, report it via a referral, letting us know what you've done to address it, because then we can pull up that history and let parents know that these are all the referrals that your child has had. In a conversation with the parents we can talk about what's happened and we know what the next steps are. It's been really helpful.

Edclick: One of the features that you folks requested that we put into Behavior Manager was a way to document function of behavior. How has that worked out?

DW: Oh, that's been tremendously helpful. As an administrator, that gives us a sense of what was happening before the incident and whatever escalation occurred. I think for teachers, it gives them a chance to step back and think, what was happening? Yes, the kid did X but usually the student did X in response to something, whatever that might have been. We see patterns from that information. For special ed teachers that's really helpful. When they have to make adjustments in the IEP, they have the data right there. Not only what happened but what lead up to it.

Edclick: The out-of-placement reductions: was that by decree or did it fall off because the behavior improved?

DW: It's a little bit of both. Our district is focused on reducing suspensions, particularly in the lower grades. So we've devised some alternatives to suspensions. And the practice of the teachers has improved to where those consequences aren't necessary.

Edclick: Are there some consequences that you're using now instead of out-of-placement?

DW: Definitely the Saturday detentions are helpful. Teachers can work with the students in a smaller setting and with the reflection sheets in the system, we'll have some conversations with the kids about what the decisionmaking was and how the student can make some adjustments.

Edclick: Thanks! Congratulations on your progress!

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Keywords: Behavior Manager, success story, 7 Habits of Happy Kids

 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

PBIS and Tardies

One of our customers told us about a surprise success. They had purchased Behavior Manager mainly because they had a big problem with tardies. They had started using our tardy station and enabling teachers to do one-click tardies when a student walked into class late. They had also implemented tardy rules so students were warned or automatically assigned consequences immediately.

A couple of weeks after starting to use the system, one administrator encountered another in the hall between classes. He asked, "Did the bell ring? I didn't hear it." The other admin answered, "No, not yet." The first asked, "Where is everybody?" The second answered, "They're in class."

The main benefit from Behavior Manager's tardy system is that it's easy and consistent. Students quickly learn that they aren't going to get away with tardies so they make it a priority to get to class.

Another benefit of equal importance is that the tardy system doesn't add any more lost instruction time than what the student has already lost by being late. It doesn't make sense to tell a student arriving late to class to march down to the office to get a tardy pass. That's just more lost instruction time. Rather, the teacher taps a link, the student is marked as tardy, the tardy rule fires based on the number of tardies recorded and assigns the student a consequence such as a warning or detention. But he doesn't miss additional instruction time.

Here's how we recommend you use Behavior Manager most effectively for reducing tardies.

  • Teach the school expectations for attendance and on-time and ready arrival.
  • Assign consequences consistently and automatically. Do not automatically apply serious consequences such as suspensions. They should be handled face-to-face.
  • If you're having tardy-to-school problems, talk with the parents. Stress the importance of on-time arrival at PTA meetings as well as individual meetings. Also stress that on-time student attendance is essential to student success.
  • If you're having a lot of late-to-class problems, look for systemic problems like crowded hallways, traffic jams or delays associated with lockers.
  • Try hallway sweeps where admins and planning period teachers walk the halls encouraging students to get to class on time or citing tardiness through their phone immediately in the hallway.
If taking these steps still leave you with too many tardies, it's time to gather some data. Why are these students late? Have students caught tardy fill out a form to learn more about the reasons. An example form is shown here.

Have the student indicate all reasons that they are tardy to class

Social/Student

    • Talking with Friends 
    • Trouble with peers 
    • Overslept 
    • Illness 
    • At locker/cafeteria 
    • Trouble at home 
    • Don’t sign in 
    • Off-campus lunch

Instruction

    • Late leaving class
    • Don’t like class 
    • Class too difficult 

Routines

    • Day of week 
    • Transportation 
    • Parking 
    • Location of class 
    • Passing time too short 
    • Bathroom 
    • Bells/clocks 

Other: __________________________

Source

Typically, the majority of your tardy problems will be effectively handled by setting expectations and having a system that's easy and consiistent for dealing with tardies that does not cause an ever greater loss of instruction time, i.e., Behavior Manager.

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Keywords: tardies, Behavior Manager, PBIS

 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Keep doing what works

When people talk about improving a school or a business or a process of some kind, most often they think about fixing something that's broken. Yes, when you find something wrong, by all means, fix it. But there's something else that pays off even better.

Sometimes, you'll run across surprise successes. When this happens, keep repeating the surprise win!

Here's an example. I found three schools today whose data showed dramatic improvements in tardies. One of the schools had a 71% reduction in tardies compared to last year. That amounted to thousands of tardies fewer. I called each to find what they had done to make such large improvements in tardies. I know lots of other schools that would love to reduce their tardies.  But these schools hadn't had tardy improvement programs going so they didn't know why the tardies were so much improved.

This is a great opportunity. Something caused these improvements. The numbers are too large to be explained by random variation. If we figure out the cause, it can thange the most common discipline issue simply by repeating whatever they are already doing.

This kind of opportunity comes up more often now that we have enough data to look for interesting things that are happening. But to benefit from it takes three things.

First, we need to be willing to take the time to just poke around in the data to see what's interestung.

Second, once we've found something interesting, we must resolve to track down what caused this surpise success.

Third, we need to keep doing what works, whether we found it by surprise or not.

Posted at 12:00 AM (permalink) 0 Comments View/Leave Comment Share this post with email Share this post on Facebook Share this post on Twitter Share this post on LinkedIn
Keywords: Behavior Manager, surprise success

 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Success Story: Darden Middle School

We noticed in the Behavior Manager statistics that Darden Middle School has seen significant improvement in office referrals over the past two years. I asked Assistant Principal Edwina Lucas about that.

Edclick: We saw your office referrals were down 33% from 2016 and 54% from 2015. Are doing something new to see such dramatic improvements?

Edwina Lucas: Yes, we’re doing a number of things. We’re doing PBIS, teaching expectations monthly, celebrating positive behavior. Also, some of the staff members we lost had high referrals. It’s a conglomeration of different things.

There is a typical signature in office referrals when a teacher needs to improve classroom management skills. The combination of disrespect, disruptive behavior and insubordination suggests disorder. When a new teacher experiences this in his classroom he may think that he's just not cut out to be a teacher. But it's simpler than that. There are a collection of classroom management skills that the best teachers master. To the uninitiated, it almost seems like a magical power. But it's not. It's a set of skills that can be learned and practiced. Darden Middle School addressed it with teaching coaches.

Edclick: It seems that the misbehaviors that were reduced the most were in the areas of disrespect, disruptive behavior, inappropriate language and insubordination. We ordinarily see improvements in those areas when there’s an improvement in classroom management skills. Are you doing anything specifically to improve classroom management skills?

Edwina Lucas: We have been doing classroom management sessions. We have two coaches. One works mostly with new teachers and the other works with teachers across the board. There’s a lot more support in that area this year that we didn’t have last year.

One of the foundational ideas of PBIS is to make evidence-based decisions. The data collection and reporting capabilities make it possible to see what's going on in the school and to see the effects of interventions. One of the things that differentiates the most successful schools from the rest is that they make the effort to learn what the data is telling them.

Edclick: Are there any other ways that Behavior Manager could be more useful for you?

Edwina Lucas: It’s doing everything we need it to do. We study the reports regularly to tell us where the hotspots are. We look at kids who don’t have referrals. Kids that have high referrals. We do extra work with the students who are high flyers. We have a lot of things going on that are positive.

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Keywords: success story, Behavior Manager, PBIS

 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Success Story: Oxford Middle School

Our Behavior Manager statistics for Oxford Middle School showed extraordinary improvements this year.

  • Referrals down 25% from last year
  • Out-of-placement consequences down 51% from last year

I called Neil Burton, Assistant Principal at Oxford Middle School about their success.

Edclick: We noticed that referrals were down by 25% from last year and out of placement consequences were down by 51%. Are you doing something different to get these improvements?

Neil Burton: We have tried to move toward a PBIS model. We still include the punitive model in some respects but we have tried to shift toward that PBIS model as much as possible.

Oxford Middle School is not alone in this. Many folks assume that once they adopt PBIS, there will be no more misbehaviors. Not so. Misbehaviors are often significantly reduced but they don't disappear. Schools still need consequences when required.

Edclick: How did you do that? Are you teaching expectations early in the school year and rewarding positive behaviors?

Neil Burton: Exactly. We’ve always done that but not with the fidelity with which we tackled it this year. We can quickly give a child points for behavior…helping out someone or being responsible or accountable. That’s made a big difference.

There was also a change with out of school suspension. We changed our code of conduct. We try to keep every child in school unless it was a violent act or there was blood drawn, charges pressed or there was a knife or drugs…otherwise, instead of sending them home, we use ISS.

Improved behavior not only improves the atmosphere in classrooms making them more conducive to learning, it it reduces the amount of instruction time that students miss. This is a big benefit. Students who are out of class rapidly deteriorate achievement. This applies both to students who are sitting in the office waiting for a tardy slip and to students who get suspended. In addition to reducing the number of suspensions, schools can use innovative consequences which keep students in class. One example is Check In/Check Out.

Edclick: Do you use Check In/Check Out? We see that being used as an alternative to OSS. It has the benefits you’re talking about where you keep the kids in school yet you’re addressing the problem.

Neil Burton: We have used it with a few students.

Beware of the trap of simply mandating that teachers solve their own classroom behavior problems. They still need backup.

Edclick: Sometimes we hear a complaint from teachers where administrators are doing PBIS and they’re telling us that they can’t do referrals any more.

Neil Burton: We addressed that with the teachers getting started. We explained that we’re adding a carrot in front of the child. We’re not taking away the stick. We’ll still use the stick if needed…metaphorically. We’re just adding to the arsenal that the teacher can use.

We see that a lot of the teachers are really good at reinforcing positive behavior. At the end of the period they take the time to note that kids are responsible, accountable, working hard. They’re giving them points right then and there.

Keep in mind that when you're adopting proactive behavior methods, you're making a culture change and that it takes time. At Delay Middle School, the school that Behavior Manager was originally built for, the proactive behavior teaching got easier each year. After three years, when all of the original students had moved on, behavior management was much easier. It had become part of the culture. New students picked it up from the current students.

Edclick: We’ve seen that there’s a culture change in the school when you start using these techniques. Sometimes it takes time for the kids who aren’t of the new culture to move on. In the meantime, you’re teaching the new culture to each new incoming class.

Neil Burton: Yes, even though we’re using PBIS, kids are sometimes going to misbehave. We talk about above the line and below the line behavior. We have high expectations for our teachers. And we expect them to lay out high expectations for their students and follow them throughout the year. If they do, great. And rewards are appropriate. If they’re not, we empower teachers to address it. If they can’t, then we will. We do try to make sure that the teachers know that they have the autonomy to deal with the parents, make those phone calls, give their own detention. If that doesn’t work, of course, send them our way.

Congratulations to students and staff at Oxford Middle School for the great improvements this year!

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Keywords: sucess story, Behavior Manager, PBIS

  Posts 1 - 5 of 5
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