Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Positive Beginning of the School Year

Our first week of school is over, and I can't believe how quickly it went. My favorite part of being a principal is being able to walk into classes and see what's going on.  This year, one of our goals is to build a positive classroom and school culture, and I am encouraged by what I observed on my walkthroughs this week.

At the school-wide level, our Positive Behavior Cadre is tasked with examining data and proactively addressing areas of concern.  Last year, this cadre instituted two initiatives which are really making a positive difference at our school.  One is "Quiet Zones"  and the other is the "Super Eagle Walk." The biggest impact has been in the decreased incidences of student misbehavior in the hallways.  Prior to implementing Quiet Zones and the Super Eagle Walk, we had complaints about students talking and laughing in the hallways, disturbing other classes in session.  We also experienced incidences such as students swinging lunch bags, or pushing others playfully, causing arguments or retaliation.  Now, students know that these kinds of behaviors are unacceptable.  Teachers have stressed the importance of following these expectations, and students quickly get into Super Eagle position and refrain from talking when they are going from one location to another.  It is amazing how we can transform behavior when everyone is on the same page!

The important point to make here is that a positive classroom or school culture needs to be nurtured.  It isn't something that is done at the beginning of the year; it needs to be a part of what we do daily.  Recently, I read a blog by Cammy Harbison about the relationship between student achievement and a strong classroom community.  My wish is that every teacher reads this blog and takes her message to heart.  Students need to feel that they are an important part of their classroom and school community and that they have something to contribute.  Accountability for their own learning starts with a feeling of belonging.  For our highly transient military-impacted students, this is even more important, and this is something we will continue to work on.

I'm optimistic!  We're off to a great start to school year 2012-2013!

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