One approach aligned with the plan is Interactive Modeling, which involves proactively showing children behavior expectations, believing that they can and will learn to do things the right way, given the tools and leadership.
In a previous article, Orchard Ridge Elementary School teachers Crystal Davis and Kayla Suing described how they use Interactive Modeling to teach behavior expectations at the beginning of the school year.
But they also know that for the process to be effective, they need to return to Interactive Modeling throughout the school year, not only after long breaks, but also when they notice students’ grasp on expectations slipping.
Don't wait for after winter or spring break to re-set
Kayla Suing notes that this past January, the process of "re-setting" after winter break went smoothly in her third grade class because she was expecting her students to need it. More challenging, she describes, is remembering that a lot of little re-sets should be happening throughout first semester.
“We talk a lot about teacher expectations at the beginning of the year and winter break. But it’s the middle part that’s hard. They are kids and they forget,” she says, while also acknowledging that teachers have a lot to do. "But when I see a large percentage of my class getting out of their seats during reading, I know that I’m going to have to teach a whole lesson on it the next day.” Suing finds that this is a good time to reflect, Did I not teach that?
A pattern emerges
This year Suing noticed a pattern. The first or second day after re-teaching a behavior expectation “goes great,” she says. “The kids are all using a two-hand grip on the iPads. But the fourth or fifth day, you have to watch them so closely. If you can get them in that time frame and catch them slipping, you might not have to revisit it in another month.”
Positive Behavior Support
Julie Traxler (pictured), Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Coach at Orchard Ridge, supports teachers in their use of Interactive Modeling. Re-modeling, she points out, not only shows follow-through, but it’s also part of self-reflecting: “What can I do as the teacher? What’s my role in this? How am I enabling this behavior? It’s a dynamic.”
Re-committing to behavior expectations
One thing Crystal Davis' fifth grade class did to re-set after winter break was return to their classroom expectations and make adjustments. For each one, she asked, “Do you think this is something we still hold as a top priority, or do we need to revisit or reword it?”
Kayla Suing’s class re-visited their expectations, too, featured on a poster that every student had signed at the beginning of the year (pictured).
To re-commit, each student drew a star by their name. It was then that it occurred to Suing that a new student who had started mid-semester had never had behavior expectations modeled for him. It was a good reminder.
Worth the time
Teachers new to the district might be surprised at the amount of time dedicated to proactively teaching positive behavior. It is a shift, but one that is well worth the time and effort, Davis, Suing and Traxler agree. “What’s good for every kid is if every teacher is good at Interactive Modeling,” says Traxler. What might seem like minutiae turns out to be anything but. “I just modeled how to get a pencil," she says. "It’s not about the pencil, but it’s all about the pencil.”