10/28/2013 11:18:00 AM Accentuating the positive New Unit 1 behavior program goes beyond punishment
Hutsonville first-grade teacher Cindi Rumler raises her arm for quiet during an outdoor class time with her students Tuesday. The students in the district are taught to recognize the gesture as part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program at the school. (Graham Milldrum photo)
Hutsonville schools are already seeing sometimes-dramatic results as they fine-tune their new behavior-education system.
Called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, the system started this year.
The system is designed to acknowledge positive activities, instead of only punishing bad behavior, said Superintendent and high-school principal Julie Kraemer.
The program provides a positive component to the normal social education, she added.
The final award for the system is an event at the end of the year. Originally, two absences were enough to eliminate a student from the PBIS celebration. Now they have the option to be absent slightly more, based on which quarters the absence occurs in. This includes medical absences.
In addition to the yearly goal, the program also works on a day-to-day level.
The currency of the system comprises the orange and black tokens given out by faculty and administrators in recognition of students' actions. These are then redeemed in classes, based on what a teacher believes is appropriate.
Each award is selected by a teacher, including the number of tokens needed and what the actual award is.
In Lori Alspach's kindergarten class, it includes the student being able to sit at the teacher's desk to do classwork, to pick the story she reads to the class or to choose the day's song and dance.
She said choosing the story is a major draw for students. It doesn't affect her lesson planning, she said, but rather helps encourage positive involvement.
At higher grade levels, the awards can include being allowed to eat a snack during class or use an mp3 player during lunch, Kraemer said.
The process has already shown changes in the school, according to staff.
Alspach said there is less running in the halls to the bathroom, and Dean of Students Mike Woods said high-school students are now picking up trash instead of ignoring it.
There are still some areas to be addressed. Woods said they are still having difficulty keeping the junior-high students on different sides of the hallway during transition times, he recently told the school board.
Another issue is the noise level expected in various locations in the school. It varies from no noise in the hallways during classes, to unlimited noise for sports activities.
Under PBIS, the indication for "quiet" has shifted from staff raising their voices to just holding up a hand, Kraemer said. This had a dramatic effect when they got the entire school together on the first day and within 15 seconds had complete quiet, she said.
The program operates by creating a framework that each school works within, according to the Illinois PBIS website.
Each school chooses what it believes is most important to the community. For Hutsonville that was four points: self-respect, respect for others, attitude and responsibility.
Then the school determines how it will teach that to its students. That took most of the first day of school, where staff modeled and explained expectations in the hallways, bathrooms and classrooms.
One important part was establishing consistency across the school, Kraemer said. For example, they had to determine what levels of quiet were required, what events were worth an award and what awards are appropriate for what level.
Bill Wyman spoke in support of the program at the October board meeting. He saw it develop in his previous experience as a teacher, he said.
"I saw it. It will work. It's got to be sold. By faculty. By us. By the administration," he said to the board.