Monday, February 8, 2016

Eagle Stamps: Positive Climate, part 2

At Wolcott Elementary School, we are getting great results with the Eagle Stamp system. 

Each day, the teachers and/or paraeducators will ink-stamp a chart for each student who meets the school wide expectations of being "Responsible, Respectful, and Ready in Thoughts, Words, and Actions.” If the child does not earn the stamp, the staff write a very brief note of explanation. The chart is sent home every day. Most parents sign the chart or write comments back. This high level of communication is time consuming, but has proven to be well worth it. Visits to the Nest (our version of a student support center) are down, and major discipline referrals have dropped dramatically. We also tied the data from the Eagle Stamps into a rewards and celebration system. We alternate between small, individually earned rewards (e.g. 30-minute game time, extra recess, or a cookie) and school wide celebrations (e.g. a hike on Mt. Elmore, ice skating, or Field Day). We have filled our Facebook page with photos of these great events.

The combination of daily behavior feedback and acknowledgement with a robust system of celebrations has helped to make our school climate much more positive.


Improving climate and student behavior has been a major focus of the last few years at Wolcott Elementary. Now that the fruits of our labor have become apparent, it is time to share what is working. Our positive behavior data looks great, our numbers of discipline cases keeps dropping. There are many factors; this was another one.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

7 Pics on Groundhog Day

Last year, I posted a couple of videos that I created showing a snapshot look into a day in the life of school.

Here is the Groundhog Day edition of 7 Pics...



Last year's video can be found here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Expanded Check-ins: Positive Climate, part 1

Late fall 2015, Wolcott Elementary School began an expanded check-in program designed to make sure that all students are successful and feel a sense of belonging. Expanded Check-ins are a brief, daily connection between small groups of students and our behavior paraprofessional. Students are selected based on parent concerns, teacher observations, counselor recommendation, or patterns of behavior that suggest some extra attention is in order. A daily check-in will give students a chance for increased, positive connections and interactions – a cheery face with a few minutes to listen and give encouragement. This will give the group one extra dose of attention that should be enough to get them through their day.

Improving climate and student behavior has been a major focus of the last few years at Wolcott Elementary. Now that the fruits of our labor have become apparent, it is time to share what is working. Our positive behavior data looks great, our numbers of discipline cases keeps dropping. There are many factors; this was one.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On the Road to Proficiency-Based and Personalized Learning

The following is taken from the draft of my November parent newsletter article. 

Our Facebook page is awash in orange from Unity Day and our classrooms are full of student-centered learning. While we will never stop giving the culture of the school tons of attention, we are spending lots of time on increasing student voice and choice in service of greater engagement in their learning. You will hear more about various efforts such as increased reading stamina through allowing students to choose where and what they read, Personalized Learning Time that has begun to hone in on students' needs, and explicit instruction in how to manage a group discussion without letting anyone dominate. The independent skills and personalized habits of mind that we teach now will help our students for years as they navigate a proficiency-based graduation system in high school.

I am proud of the first few steps Wolcott Elementary School has taken towards implementing a Proficiency-Based and Personalized Learning program for students. So many of the pieces have been in place for years. So much is so familiar to the staff. We are now putting it all together. Over the coming months, I will certainly write more about our journey.

 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Proud PBIS Principal

The following is a short note that I shared with the staff at Wolcott Elementary School. 


I am so proud to be the principal of Wolcott Elementary School.  
It is clear to me that in the last year or so, we have come together to make our school better for those students who struggle the most.  
At the PBIS Leadership Forum, on Friday, I was able to share all of the work that you have done these last couple of years. It is a story of a staff that has made many systematic shifts at the universal level and beyond. More importantly, ours is a story of a staff whose thinking about struggling kids is changing in fantastic ways. I rarely hear complaints about behavior anymore; instead, I hear questions about why the behavior exists, and I hear adults reflecting on how they can do something different to meet the students’ needs. I’ve repeated several times in the last week the comment that came my way last year from an anonymous teacher: it seems like we only focus on behavior at WES. I now respond to that: we needed to, and it worked. 
Now, we still spend time on behavior, but it is not our main focus. I am proud that we are once again in a place to focus on things like reading, writing, and math. 
I am proud to be the principal of Wolcott Elementary School.

Note: please see the brief slide deck from a brief presentation at the Vermont PBIS Leadership Forum.