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 it doesn’t have to!
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.
1. Calibrate leader mindsets to ensure your team is leading with the right messaging.
2. Check teacher habits for signs of spring fever to make sure teachers are consistently communicating expectations.
3. Refresh expectations and behaviors so that kids know you still expect their best.
4. Keep data front and center to maintain awareness of the health of classroom and school climate.
5. Incentivize the “hot weeks” to add motivation when it’s needed the most.
6. Boost student confidence for testing with individual Kickboard data to give them the greatest advantage this 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:
- How can adult actions influence student behavior and what do we need to improve or refocus on?
- If I am seeing different results in student behavior compared to earlier in the year, am I doing anything differently?
- What steps can we take to ensure spring doesn’t mean increased negative behavior and stress?
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:
- Entry/exit expectations for beginning and ending the school day
- Transition expectations with students such as line-ups, switching subjects, changing classes, and hallway behavior
- Attention signals such as SLANT, hands up for quiet, and signal words
- Lunchtime manners and procedures
- Organizational procedures such as turning in work, how to keep a binder, or how to organize supplies
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:
- What does the behavior look like, sound like, and feel like?
- Example situations of the behavior
- Non-examples of the behavior
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.
In faculty meetings:
- Take 5 minutes at the beginning of every meeting to pull up the school dashboard and reflect on the positivity ratio.
- Give shout-outs to the grade level with the highest proportion of positive-to-negative behaviors on the school dashboard.
In staff memos:
- Take a screenshot of the week’s positivity ratio (or another important Kickboard page!) and put it into your staff newsletter each week.
- Share one thing you noticed from your study of last week’s Culture Analysis and make it a standing “Notable Culture Trend of the Week” newsletter segment.
- Make a behavior tally on the School Dashboard for a critical behavior your school has been trying to improve. Report the total week-to-week and encourage action.
- Insist that for the first five minutes of every grade level or department meeting, teachers share one data point from Culture Analysis and one action they intend to take to improve culture in their classrooms in the coming week.
- Decide on a focus behavior to take action on together. Look at the culture analysis data and compare its progress from one week to the next. Is your group intervention working?
- Watch the videos and try your hand at following Kickboard’s Culture PLC’s model.
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.
- Each grade level that has X number of incidents of Respect in the month of April gets an ice cream sundae party. Culture Analysis by school, filtered for Respect behavior only.
- Any homeroom who has X number of positive incidents recorded gets to attend the school dance. Culture Analysis by group, filtered for positive behaviors only.
- Any individual with more than X dollars in Kickboard gets to go on a special leadership field trip. Culture Leaderboard.
- Make the month of April “laser focus” month and put a behavior in Kickboard for teachers to track each time a child is focused on learning. Then, keep a marble jar outside the office for all to see. Put a large marble in for every 100 focus behaviors. If you fill the jar, the whole school gets a special party in May. Behavior Tally on School Dashboard.
- Give any student who has X dollars in Kickboard at the end of each week a “Mystery Bag” containing a hidden treasure chest item. Culture Leaderboard.
- Honor the three students in each grade level with the highest balances from the previous day. Give them shout-outs during morning announcements and have them wear medals throughout the day. Culture Leaderboard.
- If Kindness is your focus for the month, create a Kindness Board. Anyone with 5 kindness behaviors at the end of the week shows up on your Kindness roster on Friday and gets his or her name on the bulletin board for the next week. Consequence trigger.
- In each classroom, the student with the most dollars or points earned for the day gets a Star Student sticker to wear home that day.
- The teacher with the most behaviors tracked each day gets to have the principal’s chair for the day. Culture Analysis filtered by teacher.
- Award the teacher with the most behaviors tracked each week a ream of paper. Culture Analysis filtered by teacher.
- Award the grade level with the most positive behaviors for the month a GOOSE (Get Out Of School Early) or GOBL (Get Out of Bed Late) pass with the principal covering each class for 30 minutes at a prearranged time. Culture Analysis filtered by group and positive behaviors.
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!