This is the latest on the steering committee at my daughters’ distressed elementary school!
Last time I came to you, we were still in the brainstorming stage. Since then, we’ve had two meetings to create goals, discuss strategies, and focus our ideas. Now we are at the point where the steering committee is ready to break apart into sub-committees to work on the nitty gritty details.
And your’s truly has been nominated to lead a subcommittee – Character Education
I was nominated for this committee because I recommended “The Good Behavior Game“, which is an evidence-based technique to reduce disruptions in class. I heard about the GBG from David Sloan Wilson’s book “The Neighborhood Project“. Basically, the idea is that the teacher divides the class into competing groups, all vying for a group prize based on their collective behavior. It’s a simple idea, but has been proven to reduce the number of disruptions in the class — almost immediately, but also for the long run.
We’re also going to introduce character education with a different values trait every month, like fairness, kindness, etc. The committee will offer recommendations for lesson plans for each character trait. We might even work on providing merit badges for the students when they achieve a certain level.
I’m at the beginning of the process, so please recommend ideas that have worked in your child’s school.
The other committees and some of their projects:
Recess: The principal admitted to us that she was considering eliminating recess and switching to “activity” time (meaning not necessarily physical education). We convinced her that more and better recess would reduce misbehavior, and she modified her plans to accommodate our concerns. We’re at the point of maximizing the recess time and diversifying the quality of recess with different locations and multiple activities. I’ve forwarded a packet of recess games to the principal that I downloaded from Playworks Organization, which is dedicated to creating more cooperative quality recess in public education. This looks promising!
There’s also a plan to get the kids walking around the track and calculating the miles walked as a metaphorical walk around the world. Displayed on the cafeteria wall will be a map of the Earth indicating how far the kids’ combined efforts have taken them around the world. We may even find grants for pedometers.
Parental Support – We want to address the very real problem that we have parents who need support. One avenue that we will take will be to offer “Love and Logic” parenting classes through a grant. I have not personally read this book, but have had multiple parenting experts recommend it. I am very happy with this idea!
I’m also consulting “Success By Six” to see how they can help my city. They’re a group through United Way who work to support parents with early education.
Public Relations – There’s a communication gap at our school, and this committee will try to solve it.
Co-curricular Activities – Improving reading and math are two of our primary goals for the next school year, but we don’t want other areas to fall by the wayside. This group will work to expand on what the kids are learning, whether that be more science, drama, or computer skills.
Student Feedback – We’ve created a committee that will be responsible for surveying the kids and comparing their feedback about the school from the beginning of school to the end of school.
In addition to the aforementioned committees, there are real concrete changes being made by the administration: every grade will have smaller classes, a dean of students has been hired to help with behavior issues, a “Positive Behavior Support” committee has been formed, workshops on crisis prevention, aesthetic changes to the exterior, new reading programs, etc.
Very excited about the new year!