Positive reinforcement and other classroom management strategies were the focus point for Black Fox, Prospect and Valley View elementary schools.
The schools came together to bring in Amie Dean of Educational Strategies Unlimited for her “Behavior interventions that work” presentation.
“If I can get you to behave, I can get you to learn,” Dean said.
The first half of the presentation is the same for every school. It focuses on understanding student behavior and why students act as they do.
Dean was also featured at a Lake Forest Middle School in-service Thursday.
In-service is starting out a little different this year. Rather than all the teachers coming together and then breaking off for school-specific discussions, each school is holding their own. A joint session is planned for September.
Plans for elementary presentation began when Black Fox Principal Dr. Kim Fisher asked Dean to come to her school after hearing her present to area principals. Prospect principal Steve Montgomery and Valley View Sherrie Ledford overheard the request and asked to be a part.
“All three of our schools are using this schoolwide. Our support staff is here, our faculty is here, our cafeteria staff is here, because we want to address issues in a positive manner, and that is her focus,” Fisher said.
Ledford said teacher excitement over the material was evident during conversations when they broke for lunch.
Ledford said Dean gave practical examples that teachers could relate to.
For Valley View teachers, the presentation builds on a philosophy that many have used from the book “Love and Logic.”
“I have so many who are already very strong in classroom management,” Ledford said.
She said she wanted to see teachers reach new levels of successful classroom management.
“Our teachers have really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a great thing to start the school year with,” Prospect Elementary Principal Steve Montgomery said.
He said he hoped teachers were able to take away a few strategies they could use in their classrooms.
As a result of the training, Black Fox is going to focus on the different ways students display their intelligence, during the third week of school.
“We so often just focus on reading and math, we forget about all those other intelligences, being mechanical, being musical,” Fisher said.
Each student will fill out a survey that will help teachers get to know students’ strengths and what they like.
Building relationships with students was highlighted throughout Wednesday’s training. Dean emphasizes giving students the opportunity to correct their own behaviors.
“The training has been excellent. I feel as though we have really good tools to start the beginning of the year,” Black Fox fifth-grade teacher Pam Coleman said.
Coleman said the presentation gives teachers practical advice on how to be proactive in encouraging positive behavior.
Sandy Bailey, who teaches second grade, said the strategies Dean presented helped teachers spend less time dealing with behavioral issues and more time teaching.
“Behavior is what we talk about in elementary school ... but really as an adult it transpires into professionalism. We’re really teaching these children to be young professionals,” Coleman said.
Prospect Elementary teacher Carrie Trew said she plans on implementing some of the strategies and techniques highlighted during the training in her classroom.
She enjoyed the different “light and fun” atmosphere of the training.
Some strategies were different between Dean’s presentations to the elementary teachers versus the middle school teachers making them age appropriate for each group of students. However, Dean highlighted that even middle school students need to practice procedures such as quietly entering a classroom in order to do it considerately. Dean encouraged middle school teams to have similar classroom procedures.
Lake Forest Middle School Principal Ritchie Stevenson said having Dean present to teachers was a way to start the school year on a positive note.
Stevenson said the presentation focused on building relationships with students.
“Right now in education it’s a lot harder to be positive than it used to be,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said he appreciated the importance placed on thinking a situation through before reacting.
Thinking about the environment a student is coming from can often help a teacher better understand a student’s behavior better, Dean said.
When students act out they are trying to get something or get out of something is just one insight seventh-grade science teacher Drew Nelson said he would take away from the day.
“I hope that it will change the paradigm sometimes of how we think in the classroom where we deal with situations that are not always positive, and maybe go about them differently or use some different strategies,” Stevenson said.
Nelson said he felt the training provided “good practical application of behavior management in the classroom.”
“I like also that she is talking about are groups and teams coming up with very consistent, similar policy and procedures for the classroom,” Nelson said.
LFMS teacher Ambra Donegan said one of her favorite strategies was the courtesy contract. The contract is a way for the teacher and students to work together to provide rules for the classroom.
Funding from the Elementary and Secondary Counseling grant received by Bradley County Schools was used to offer the training at Lake Forest.
Dean was a teacher for 15 years before becoming a full-time consultant. A professional development class she took when she was a teacher inspired her to do the same thing. Soon she was teaching professional development at night for schools in her district. She has been a full-time consultant for three years.