Improving school behavior by capturing kids’ hearts
School board gives OK to new teacher training
Chopticon High School and Margaret Brent Middle School teachers are seeking to hold students accountable for their behavior by using social classroom contracts.
Staff from the northern county secondary schools will take additional professional development next week, which is expected to cost $26,000. Followup training will be available in early 2019.
Called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts,” the program is “a natural progression” of the responsive classroom techniques used at elementary schools, Superintendent Scott Smith said at a school board meeting Wednesday morning.
Teachers at the elementary schools schedule time with students in the morning to connect and communicate, along with showing students how to better manage their behavior.
Karin Bailey, school board chairwoman, said students will have an easier time transitioning from middle to high school if behavior expectations are similar.
Rita Weaver, school board member, said children are “constantly being told by [adults] what to do” and how to behave. If given the chance to share their opinions, students might be more inclined to behave and empower them to make more decisions for themselves, she said.
Chopticon English teacher Rebecca Hooven, who has previous training with the program, said she creates “social contracts” outlining behavior expectations with each of her six classes.
She said “students want to come to school … when they feel safe, cared for and included.”
Hooven said expected results from the teacher training include a better student attendance rate, an increase in academic success, a decrease in behavioral issues and an increase in teacher job satisfaction.
Prior to creating classroom contracts, Hooven said students split into groups of four and come up with one-word responses to questions like how to resolve conflict and how they want to be treated.
“Respect is a repeat answer,” she said, adding that all answers are written for the class to see and “each student’s input is important.”
She said when students understand what behavior is expected of them, they are less likely to misbehave. The contracts are hung on the wall for other classes to view, and be referred back to if a student doesn’t follow the guidelines.
Hooven said she makes sure to shake hands with her students daily, and ends each class “with a smile on her face.”
Mary Washington, school board member, said if students see that teachers are trying to connect with them, they may open up to teachers and “get something off their mind.”
Principal Kim Summers said training would happen next week and staff would continue to “keep a finger on the pulse of our climate in the building” and monitor student attendance.
She said the training would encourage teachers to connect with other staff members and try to “get kids to do the same [and] respect each other.”