By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries from April 2018
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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

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