Monday, February 25, 2013

Green is the Color - Learning is the Game!

"Managing a classroom is part art and part science, conceptually simple enough to reduce to a handful of critical variables, yet so intricate and complex it is a lifelong learning task. Even the best and most experienced teachers must continually refine their classroom management plans.”
(Sprick, Knight, Reinke & McKale, 2006, p. 185)

Isn't that the truth. There are not too many people in education that would argue with the importance of establishing solid structures and routines. The use of expectations (outcomes) and rules (indicators) provides a guideline for students to monitor their own behavior and they remind and motivate students to meet certain standards. One of the schools that I work with was seeing an increase in inappropriate student behavior. Rather than just sitting back the staff decided to explore intervention strategies to support student behavior. After many hours of professional development and discussion the primary teachers (grades 1 and 2) and the junior cluster teachers (grades 3 to 5) decided to adopt (and adapt) the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) model from the following YouTube video:



The primary teachers felt that it was important to add visuals to support young learners and the junior cluster teachers felt that it was important that administration followed up using a similar model.


Primary "On Target" chart


Junior Cluster "On Target" Chart



Before the charts were introduced into the classroom students were taught classroom routines and procedures.Classroom expectations and rules were then developed and displayed. The charts act as a visual reminder to help students monitor their behavior. The goal is to stay "On Target" which means that the students are "responsible and ready to learn". If students have difficulty monitoring their behavior they are asked to move their clip to the yellow "warning" section. The students are given three warning to change their behavior. Students that continue demonstrating inappropriate behavior are assigned a "Think Paper" which is completed with the intent of being taken home and shared with their parent/s or guardian after school. If the behavior still persists the parents are contacted by phone. Students may be moved directly to "red" if their behavior is deemed as a threat to themselves or others. "S.B.S" stands for school based support which implies support from administration and/or school counselors. To help set the student up for success the students' clips are returned to "On Target" or green on a daily basis. Some teachers have found more success if the clips are returned to "On Target" or green after lunch as well as after school.


"School Based Support" chart

The goal of the support team is to help students become regulated so that they can return to the classroom as quickly as possible. When students are on "red" there is usually very little adult initiated conversation. This is a calming down period. Students are encouraged to read or work quietly, take some down time or request to speak to someone. The students move to"yellow" after they have demonstrated that they are beginning to "Gain Control". It is at this point that adults may initiate conversation. During this time students are encouraged to keep working and/or ask for help with their work. The student is at "green" when they are regulated - this may be a time to begin planning with the student regarding their behavior (Behavioral Plan). When the student returns to the classroom their clip is returned green.

This model has proven to be effective with the majority of students from grades 1-5 and has been useful identifying students who may need more intense and on-going support.

I truly love unsolicited feedback. I just happened to attend a staff meeting at this particular school one month. The meeting began by the teachers sharing "Positive Comments" about their year. Some of the comments reflected how the teachers were feeling about their PBIS plan.

"Way to go Primary Cluster! I have heard one of my students demonstrate his understanding of appropriate and inappropriate behavior at school by engaging another student in conversation about bucket filling! Love it!" Ms.D N. (teacher for students with visual impairments)

"I have had many positive experiences this school year! I have really enjoyed the fact that we are acknowledging positive behavior with the, “On the Green” chart. The chart motivates some students and is a daily reminder for teachers that there are more students then we may think making good choices". Miss C. (junior cluster teacher)

"There are several things I could add to this list but probably one of the most obvious is the junior cluster green reward events. I love seeing the students celebrating together and enjoying their achievement. They know where to look for their pictures and are genuinely proud of their accomplishment. I have been pleasantly surprised to see who is participating in the "green party". I think this is an example of a plan that was made in August, coming to fruition, being regularly improved and, most importantly, WORKING!!!"Mrs.I-N (vice-principal)

Yes it takes teaming, planning, consistency, structure and time to change student behavior (oh yeah and lots of patience!!!) but our kids are worth it and they need us. I'll end this posting the way I started it with a quote from some very wise people:

“The goal of effective classroom management is not creating “perfect” children, but providing the perfect environment for enhancing their growth, using research based strategies that guide students toward increasingly responsible and motivated behavior.”
(Sprick, Knight, Reinke & McKale, 2006, p. 185)

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