Tell us about an innovative program that you spearheaded at your school?
We implemented systems to support students and keep them in school, rather than suspended over the past four years. As a result, disciplinary incidents have dropped from 3, 453 in 2011-2012 to under 1,248 during 2014-2015. This current school year, incidents as of May 2015 is under 600.
Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports were implemented. School-wide incentives dollars were paid to students for improved attendance, behavior and attendance weekly. An 8 period day was implemented so students could spend their incentive dollars during the extended lunch period. During lunch time, teachers met in teams every two weeks to talk about students struggling in one of those 3 areas. The Problem-Solving Leadership Team met weekly to provide supports for students needing it the most. Any student that faced suspension was counseled as part of the Restorative Justice program upon return by the ISS teacher, since ISS was reduced from 5 days to 2 days per week.
Explain your journey and how you where able to implement your plan?
Much of the process required teachers to be at the table helping to design what would work for them. In order for students to be successful, teachers must feel supported. Systems were put in place to encourage and motivate teachers. Planning sessions were held each summer, with teachers, to review and make changes. Teachers helped decide which incidences required administrative involvement and those which can be resolved through classroom or team interventions. A system was implemented for teachers to Request Assistance when needed. Each month, a culture meeting was held with teachers so steps can be taken to solve school-wide problems right away using the 8 constructs of the TELL survey.
What was the impact on your faculty, students and/or families?
Students felt the greatest impact because their attendance rate has improved each year, for the last 4 years. Student performance has increased with less than 10 students failing classes in each grade level. Parents have gotten involved positively in the school and actively shadow their student to class as needed for tardiness or other behavioral issues. Teachers benefited because their perception of school culture has improved greatly over 4 years, with the highest rating during the 2015-2016 school year yielding agreement rates higher than the middle school average and district average in more than 80% of the 8 areas measured by the TELL survey.
How where you able to get by in for your program and what obstacles did you have to overcome?
Buy-in was created by using teachers to help create the problem, having them continuously improve on the plan along the way. Supports were implemented for teachers to reach out for help and teachers were recognized for their contributions to “strengthening the Lion Cubs.” Any obstacles faced were eliminated by allowing teachers to talk to their own colleagues since the initiatives were created for them, by them.
What recommendation would you have for someone who wanted to implement your plan?
Get teachers involved from the beginning. Talk about what’s working and what’s not working throughout the year. Ensure a forum exists for teachers to talk to administrators and provide input. Shared accountability is also important; the Assistance Request process was semi-public so not only can teachers request help but the principal (and other leaders) was able to see how thoughtful and timely resource staff provided support.