Ah, spring! Testing season, spring break, stressful academic demands, warmer weather, anticipation of summer vacation—all these factors can affect a school’s climate, but they don’t have to! We’ve put together six powerful strategies, proven to be successful in Kickboard schools, that will proactively counter spring challenges and motivate everyone along the way.
The common theme with all six strategies is that you and your leadership team proactively plan for ensuring positive behavior during the spring. If you don’t plan and get ahead of the behaviors that tend to arise, you’re sure to spend an unpleasant amount of time and energy reacting to negative behaviors instead.
Feel free to “choose your own adventure” from the choices below. We have included a lot of information, so hold onto your hats (spring is indeed windy!). Check out one, or check out all. Just know this post is chock full of specific, proactive actions you can easily take to ensure a successful spring.
During your next leadership team meeting, take a few minutes to reflect together on this question:
Are you counting on having to spend more time this spring responding to discipline referrals?
If the consensus is yes, it’s helpful to remind the team that a little time invested now in proactive planning can actually buy them time later on. Question the fixed mindset that spring always means more negative behaviors and guide them toward a growth mindset that this spring your team is going to take action to ensure the school is consistently reinforcing positive expectations. Then create an action plan to make sure it happens.
Once your leadership team is all on the same page, bring your teachers into the conversation regarding mindsets for success. Quite often, school staff think “kids should know this by now” when it comes to behavior and, therefore, don’t feel the need to reinforce expectations with such diligence. But would you ever say to a child “You should know how to read by now” and drop reading instruction? Just like continually revisiting academic standards, adults need to explicitly re-teach behavior expectations, especially when there’s evidence from data to indicate that spring can get tough.
Also, be aware of teachers themselves inadvertently sending out signals that it’s okay to misbehave. Of course, they would never do this intentionally, but perhaps teachers are spending more time at recess or ignoring minor behavior infractions they would have addressed earlier in the year. These mixed signals will only confuse students and send the message that behavior isn’t as important now as it was during the beginning of the year. Take some time during your next staff meeting or PLC to collectively reflect and act on some of the following questions as a team:
Look at your monthly trends in Culture Analysis. Are any grade levels slowing down their efforts of reinforcing behaviors in Kickboard? If tracking is trending downward, consider asking staff to incorporate back-to-school approaches to building positive classroom and school-wide culture.
Here are a few expectations you can re-teach, practice together, and reinforce with points or dollars in Kickboard Daily Activity:
In addition to taking a beginning of the year approach to procedures and expectations, revisit and clarify what certain positive behaviors truly mean. Consider a norming activity with adults and then with students where you decide specifics such as:
Awareness breeds action! One of the most powerful ways to prevent a negative spiral is to keep everyone aware of the data. Here are a few ways to be intentional about ensuring culture data is the driving force for change.
Identify in your school’s calendar what your “hot weeks” are likely to be and incentivize the heck out of those! If you have Kickboard data from last year, use it to identify the times when negative behaviors escalated. Otherwise, use discipline referral data from past years. Often, hot weeks are the weeksleading up to spring break, or they occur in May after all the spring testing is complete. Challenge your staff and students to reach lofty behavior goals by providing tantalizing rewards if they attain them. Below are a few ideas for incentives along with the Kickboard features that will best help you manage them.
There are so many ways to incentivize positive choices for all ages both individually and collectively. And if you don’t have the budget for anything extravagant, you can download this list of free or inexpensive incentives for ideas.
First, decide if you need or want to adjust any behaviors or quick buttons in your Kickboard site that would reinforce habits and attitudes that will help students succeed on the upcoming tests. Remind teachers that Daily Activity is a powerful tool to reinforce positive academic choices and notify them of any Kickboard site changes. Set the expectation and monitor that teachers are tracking behaviors such as grit, engagement, extra effort, and focus. Then, in the week or two leading up to testing, ask teachers to have a conversation with individual students using Culture Analysis data filtered by student to celebrate evidence of the positive choices they’ve been making which will help them ace the test!
As one of our fabulous Kickboard school leaders recently stated, “People don’t remember the beginning of the movie, they remember the end. We want that for our students and staff too. We want to finish strong!” So jump into spring with some proactive planning and you’re sure to have a spring full of positive possibilities!