Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In support of Positive Behavior Support

Today I introduced Positive Behavior Support to my peers. Here isn't really the place to analyze the presentation itself, but I thought that a lot of notable things happened at the in-service day that bear discussion.

The single most important thing that came out of the meeting of the minds today was the idea that consistency is key. We would like to have a consistent vocabulary for coming to attention and other common tasks throughout the school days (do you, dear reader, have any suggestions for things we need to communicate all the time, and should call by the same name?). Consistent instruction and re-instruction methods for behavior expectations would be nice, too. But what I think we found today was that consistent expectations are the first step. We all want the same things from students, even if we think about what we want in different terms. And in order to teach students how to behave, knowing what we expect from them is requisite to figuring out how to teach them.

A lot of today's conversation rotated around finnicky bits of policy, usually in places where we have to draw a line in the sand, but the location of the line is clearly arbitrary. A lot of people discovered things about the way our school was run, and found that maybe was not all to their liking. I think this is great; nothing encourages participation in an increasingly team-directed model like a little controversy. I often had to answer questions with the response, "That's a conversation that's ongoing." I'm sure it started sounding like, "I don't know, go bother somebody else," but the truth is that all these conversations are ongoing. The fact that they're conversations is the important part. And everybody had their take--the elementary teachers, the secondary teachers, the teaching support staff--and they all made sure their perspective was heard. And when I told them, "This is a conversation we'll have to continue later," they believed that it was a conversation, and that it would continue later.

A lot of complications in regards to the first days' introduction of behavior expectations came to light, as well. I had a lot of help solving the ones that could be solved right there, and a lot of offers of help to solve the rest. That's the makings of a Leadership Team right there. There remains a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in, and that doesn't even count how much stuff I haven't done for my Spanish classes yet. But we made HUGE strides today in changing the way our teachers interact with our students, and how our students interact with school. Let's keep it up, guys!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The community of schools

To my colleagues: If you're looking for the post on Positive Behavior Support, please scroll down to the next entry. Or click here.

Texas school district to let teachers carry guns

I've never really understood the idea that carrying guns makes people safer. I TRULY don't understand the idea that teachers carrying guns makes students safer.

It's just possible that a rural district in Texas with fewer than 150 students will be able to have such a policy without disastrous unintended consequences (I'm thinking accidental shootings or unlicensed operators getting their hands on the guns). But I doubt it will help the district improve student safety in any meaningful way, either.

I also imagine a devastating effect on school culture. This is the first school in the United States to permit this, and nobody knows how it will play out. But I imagine that the presence of firearms will change the timbre of the basic social calculus of schools dramatically.

I don't know a lot about firearm safety, other than the many safety concerns raised by firearms. I'm prepared to eat crow if a teacher saves a classroom full of students with the help of her trusty 9, or even if such a move gives the school a long-term boost in public confidence and students' sense of safety. These outcomes are ridiculously unlikely, though, and compared with the potential hazards, I would call this a case of good intentions spawning bad policy.

Edited to include more effective ways of getting to other blog posts.