The number one thing that comes to mind is character education. With the added rigor to the curriculum and focus on student performance on state assessments, it is easy to forget about the daily efforts our teachers make with educating the whole child. In addition to teaching math, science, reading and the arts, our teachers are moral educators, counselors and role models. They are tasked with helping children learn to self-regulate and develop their social and emotional skills, while creating a safe, caring environment.
The character education things I’ve listed above are things our teachers have done for years. However, this year is the first year our staff has done some of it through the structure of the PBIS program. PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports) strives to teach children good behaviors and character building through the use of positive reinforcements.
The four main areas our staff has decided to focus on with PBIS are: present (fully engaged in learning), positive, respectful and responsible. There are numerous ways our staff teaches these core values to our students and many ways students are rewarded for consistently displaying these values.
One way we reward students for showing the above core values is with red tickets. Our staff always has tickets on them, ready to hand out to students who show good character. When a student earns a red ticket, they put their name on it and put it in one of the treasure boxes around the school. On Fridays we pull five tickets from each treasure box and the students earn a reward. The rewards could be picking a toy from a box in the office or some weeks they get pizza with the principal.
One of the best things I like about this setup is all staff members in the building have tickets to handout. A student could earn a ticket in the morning bus room from our paraprofessional or they could earn a ticket from our custodian for helping a friend in the cafeteria or picking up a piece of trash in the hallway. A student might earn a ticket from the secretary for having good manners when they come into the office for something.
Students also can be rewarded for high character by being recognized as a “League Leader.” Each month our homeroom teachers select a student to be honored for their great behavior. The “League Leaders” pictures are displayed in the foyer in a cool shadowbox frame, under a “League Leaders” banner. Our banner was made at the maker space at Norwalk Middle School and the shadowbox frames were donated by International Automotive Components in Huron. It is fun to see how proud students are when they are selected. It is also great to see the other students cheering them on for their accomplishments.
It’s wonderful to have a staff of “League Leaders” teaching students more than academics.
Local columnist Adam Kreischer is the principal at League Elementary.