Im­prov­ing school be­hav­ior by cap­tur­ing kids’ hearts

School board gives OK to new teacher train­ing

The Enterprise - - Community Forum - By JACQUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

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.”

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