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Sandston Elementary’s School Theme this year is “I Celebrate Me!” One of the biggest things we want to accomplish is celebrating all the accomplishments our students achieve throughout the year. It can be academic related, conduct related, family related, or even something they’re proud of outside of school. Kim Powell, our principal, and I, along with the whole staff are working hard to build and strengthen the relationships we have with our students, parents, and our Sandston Community as a whole. Being this is one of our big goals for the year, having Sandston STAR Shout Out Celebrations at the end of each grading period is a high priority. Working closely with our Community Partners, Siemens and the Henrico Education Foundation (HEF), we were able to earn grants and fund this amazing project! What do these celebrations include? First, we have a huge celebration assembly in the morning. Here’s a breakdown of the fun we had at our first assembly of the year:
- Recognizing student awards: A Honor Roll, A/B Honor Roll, Citizenship, and Attendance
- Recognizing STAR Character Award winners from each class
- An appearance from WebstUR, UR’s Spider mascot, to help pass out the STAR Character awards
- A Whip/Nae-Nae Aerobics Workout performance from the 3rd graders and PE Teacher
- Recognizing our Parent Honor Roll members who have reached 200 points
- Awarding the Turkey King/Queen Crown to the teacher of the class who brought in the most cans for the Henrico Christmas Mother
For the second part of our Sandston STAR Shout Out Celebrations, the students participate in activities we plan with groups outside of school. As part of our School Wide Behavior Plan, teachers award points to students using Class Dojo throughout each grading period. If students reach the Class Dojo point goal for the nine weeks, they receive their “Star Ticket” to the activity. Siemens helped provide us with Plush Gold Stars to award the students for this grading period! For our first activity of the year, we used a portion of our HEF Grant to have Richmond Ropes come out! This amazing group took groups of students in 4 one-hour sessions and helped the students work together in team building “low-ropes” activities. It was an extremely rewarding experience seeing students critically think and work together to solve the challenges.
Today’s events were only the beginning of big celebrations we hope to provide throughout the rest of the year. Check out this small snippet from all the fun today!
As educators we implement all different kinds of incentives for our students to help them stay focused and working hard in our classrooms. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or PBIS is an approach to building positive supports to help motivate students to achieve success. Using successful PBIS supports can help our students thrive off positive behavior in the classroom, and help them to want to perform well in class for themselves and their teachers.
Taking this same approach, why not create the same type of PBIS system for teachers! It is not just students who respond well to positive motivation. We’re all human and crave positive reinforcement and validation for our hard work and effort we put in our professional lives.
Pocahontas Middle School principal, Kim Sigler, has implemented an extremely successful PBIS system with her staff for the past couple years. Collaborating with Mrs. Sigler over the past couple weeks to help implement our own PBIS system at Fair Oaks for our faculty has been extremely rewarding. Not only did Mrs. Sigler help us come up with some great ideas, she also suggested and shared a couple great books to help that I highly suggest: Looking Forward to Monday Morning and Looking Forward to MORE Monday Mornings.
Focusing on Standards One and Three of Virginia DOES’s Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, our administrative team created and quick and easy walkthrough form that we use for our daily walkthroughs with our teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to earn six checks. If they receive all six, they earn a Cardinal Coupon. When they accumulate a certain amount of Cardinal Coupons they can redeem them for incentives!
We’ve just finished our first week of walkthroughs with a huge amount of success! It has given me much more joy and purpose coming into classrooms observing the teacher practices in my school. I’ve also enjoyed adding extra notes along with each walkthrough letting teachers know what I thought was successful and some thoughts on how to tweak and enhance the lesson. As you can see below, with as little as 5 Cardinal Coupons, teachers can start redeeming them for items as simple as a Coke, a Keurig K-Cup, or a sweet treat! It seems a little odd rewarding teachers for what they should be doing in the classroom, but as we all know, it works for our students, so why shouldn’t our teachers get to enjoy in the fun as well!
I have been challenged a little on this initiative from some educators who believe that that giving rewards and incentives is manipulation and that inferior work is the ultimate result. I don’t totally disagree with these statements, but if used in correlation with simply good instructional leadership, the work won’t be inferior. I wouldn’t use this form of PBIS with my faculty and staff as the end all and be all of how teachers should be completing their work, but rather a small piece of the puzzle to help put positive spin on achieving the goal at hand.