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INSIGHTS • Behavior Management • Phillips Brooks Summer Institute 2019

Leslie Richardson, Director of Preschool–2nd Grade

INSIGHTS is an ongoing series of blog posts published by members of the PBS faculty, providing a lens into how the PBS faculty thinks about curriculum development, teaching and learning, professional development, and other topics central to executing the school’s mission every day. In this multi-part series of INSIGHTS articles, PBS faculty will share updates on important school-wide initiatives, including the annual Curriculum Deep Dive and Phillips Brooks Summer Institute projects.

The week following the Curriculum Deep Dive on Emotional Intelligence, we kicked off our Phillips Brooks Summer Institute on Behavior Management, and the timing was excellent! Four of the faculty and administration team members who participated in the CDD the previous week were also active in this three-day study, providing helpful context and alignment for these essential elements of our community and culture.

The primary goal for our time together was to create procedures, documentation, common language, visuals, and tools to enhance the clarity and consistency around all parts of the school day related to behavior. Whereas the emotional intelligence CDD focused on measures to prevent atypical misbehavior, this PBSi focused primarily on the school’s responses to the behavioral choices students make as they navigate their school day.

Documenting common behaviors and misbehaviors

In order to reach this goal, we took most of our first day to collect and document the range of typical and common developmentally appropriate social challenges and misbehavior from ELC through 5th grade. A separate column was delineated to illustrate the kind of behaviors or patterns that fall outside of a typical range. This distinction proved helpful as we discussed outlining a clear protocol for how PBS responds to behavior and the consequences for those who do not meet community expectations. We then mapped out the full range of consequences and connected them to behavior choices.

The PBSi team noticed that there were several of the same types of misbehavior that can happen across all grade levels. The key difference, we noted, is in the child’s ability to understand and learn from their part in the choice they made. We discussed how typical misbehavior is fuel for social and emotional growth, and if it can be addressed with consistency at school and home, it’s part of a healthy school–home partnership and results in better choices and behavioral improvement. If typical misbehavior continues with frequency, and a troublesome pattern emerges, we noted that this highlights the need for a different tier of consequences with more impact.

Resources for communication and documentation

It was important for us to highlight examples of what’s developmentally inappropriate, including physical, verbal or non-verbal aggression that may or may not constitute bullying behavior. In order to facilitate clarity, the team crafted a research-informed definition of bullying behavior to share with the faculty and our families when school resumes.

Several new visuals and tools were then created during day two and three of the PBSi:

  • Behavior Management Visual Model illustrates behavior choices and the range of logical consequences and responses we use at PBS
  • Student reflection sheet
  • Details of how students repair harm with an authentic, restorative response so that they can reintegrate into the classroom
  • Incident report template, which will be used for all atypical behaviors and school–home communication
  • Community norms for home-school partnership based on our School–Home Partnership Charter
  • Expectations for the timeline for faculty and parent response to misbehavior
  • Process for referrals to outside support services
  • PBS communication timeline for ongoing dialogue and feedback related to behavior management

We know that children are best served by all the adults in their life communicating respectfully and working in partnership. To this end, we have established clear community norms for families. We also have included several key questions that we will ask as a faculty and staff to get at the root of the behavior:

  • What is this child asking for by exhibiting this behavior?
  • What executive skill is the child lacking that we can lend?

These new resources will be rolled out to families over the coming weeks, starting with the release of the Parent Manual in tomorrow’s Gazette and continuing through parent–teacher listening meetings and Back-to-School Night.

In summary

The PBSi team left the three-day workshop feeling invigorated! We appreciated the chance to spend three, intensive days dedicated to this important opportunity for improvement and feel confident that sharing the work and resources we created would answer some questions, clear up misperceptions, and add clarity about how we approach typical and atypical misbehavior. We look forward to engaging the community on this topic meaningfully in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Leslie Richardson has served in a number of roles at PBS since 2010: K–2 Learning Specialist, Learning Support Coordinator, Director of Teaching and Learning, and now Director of Preschool–2nd Grade. Before PBS, she taught for 10 years as a classroom and literacy specialist and worked as an editor in educational publishing.

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