By Dr. Amy Reed (@AmyReedEDU), Ramsey Elementary Principal and MESPA North Suburban Division President-Elect
“If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.
If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach.
If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach.
If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach.
If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we…teach? punish?”
As leaders, we are well aware on the research related to student discipline, particularly as it relates to how these exclusionary practices have disproportionately impacted students across race, gender, and income lines. Our staff is committed to changing this pattern through intentional conversations with all stakeholders that allows us to develop a shared understanding as it relates to our core beliefs specific to working with students while also creating a multi-tiered system of support that focuses on examining student behavior through a proactive lens.
We are currently refining and implementing our school-wide behavior plan, which supports our entire staff with furthering our understanding of proactive behavior support, with a focus on Tier I interventions. Examining our collective philosophies has allowed our collective staff to implement a school-wide plan that honors all stakeholders in the process while proactively addressing lagging skills that students are demonstrating. Our school-wide behavior plan was developed by our entire staff with the support of Jacki Brickman, who is an educational consultant, trainer and coach.
School-Wide Behavior Plan Components:
Our principles-centered school-wide behavior plan involves all stakeholders in the process and includes the following components:
- Developing Principles and Core Beliefs – All staff participated in selecting the beliefs that align best to their work with students. The results were discussed with the staff and the beliefs that were held by 80% or more of the staff were written into the behavior plan.
- Understanding Effective Systems – This section of the plan allowed our staff to develop a common understanding that effective systems work for the majority of our students while recognizing that some students require flexibility when working within our school system.
- Implementing School-Wide Expectations – These expectations were developed by staff and are explicitly taught to students in all areas of school.
- Developing a Common Spaces Agreement– The staff determined consensus on the volume and independence levels for these areas during arrival, learning hours, and dismissal.
- Creating Healthy Classrooms and Communities– Strategies for teachers specific to building relationships, supporting students’ social learning, and providing even more opportunities for student voice in the classroom.
- Celebrating Students through Individual and Positive Recognition – Options for staff to recognize and communicate positive behavior and accomplishments that align to our school-wide principles and core beliefs.
- Supporting staff with Behavior Management Strategies– Providing proactive classroom management strategies that support teachers with keeping students in the learning environment, with ENVoY strategies serving as the foundation to increase engagement and on-task behaviors while preserving relationships. Additional layers of support are also provided for special circumstances, such as collaborative problem solving with staff and administration, as well as the Intervention Team process.
- Supporting Student Discipline – Clearly defining our referral process. The overall goal is to strive for discipline to be our “back-up plan” and not our “go-to plan”. Students who demonstrate an additional level of need get support through logical consequences such as problem-solving conversations, behavior contracts, check in/out, teaching and reteaching, recovery and reflection breaks, restitution, and temporary removal.
- Family Support – Providing staff with proactive communication strategies to establish and maintain proactive partnerships throughout the school year.
To support implementation, we have developed a student success team that meets monthly to review our school-wide behavior plan. This team consists of paraeducators, teachers, administration, and our district student conduct administrator. Each member serves as a leader that supports implementation by gathering feedback and questions from their teams and continually refining our communication process.