How McDougle Middle School Changed Their School Culture-And You Can Too

How McDougle Middle School used behavior data to change their school culture.
By 
Jaimi West
 | 
October 17, 2022

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

New job. New School. No data. How do you begin to improve school culture without the information needed to inform those decisions?

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

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About McDougle Middle School

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Enrollment: 746
  • Grade: 6-8

Jaimi and her team felt there was a need to motivate students and to get away from using paper-based programs. This brought them to the Ron Clark system first. At first, they were successful in handing out points but weren’t getting usable data to inform their practices. 

Jaimi committed herself to research and finding the right program. She found LiveSchool. With LiveSchool she was able to use data to

  • Cross-reference teacher points awarded vs student behavior data
  • Target students that are flying under the radar
  • Identify those who aren’t getting awarded points
  • Allow teachers to present best practices at faculty meetings

“I wanted to be able to see what teachers were handing out points and cross-reference that with behavior data.”

378K
Points Awarded
52K
Points for School Spirit
46K
Points for Active Participation

The Key Pieces to McDougle’s System

A good house starts with a good foundation and getting the right materials in place.

McDougle’s House Points System is no different. Let’s take a look at the foundational pieces of their program:

House Selection

Students and staff are sorted into houses. Students remain in this house until the end of 8th grade. They are mixed grade levels evenly distributed.

Students learn what house they will belong in at their annual “Meet the Advisor” event. Older students come to watch and celebrate as new members are inducted into their houses. 

The students’ advisor moves up a grade level each year with the students.

Point Distribution

“Points are earned not given.”

A committee was formed to develop a rubric for point distribution. This allowed for consistency between the houses on point distribution.

Points are awarded for standard acts you’d expect of students such as helping others and being on time. They are awarded for going above and beyond like befriending a new student. Students earn special points for academic performance and growth. Points are also awarded during school events such as spirit days or assemblies.

The Key Pieces to McDougle’s System

A good house starts with a good foundation and getting the right materials in place.

McDougle’s House Points System is no different. Let’s take a look at the foundational pieces of their program:

House Selection

Students and staff are sorted into houses. Students remain in this house until the end of 8th grade. They are mixed grade levels evenly distributed.

Students learn what house they will belong in at their annual “Meet the Advisor” event. Older students come to watch and celebrate as new members are inducted into their houses. 

The students’ advisor moves up a grade level each year with the students.

Point Distribution

“Points are earned not given.”

A committee was formed to develop a rubric for point distribution. This allowed for consistency between the houses on point distribution.

Points are awarded for standard acts you’d expect of students such as helping others and being on time. They are awarded for going above and beyond like befriending a new student. Students earn special points for academic performance and growth. Points are also awarded during school events such as spirit days or assemblies.

Staff Points

“We have to make school fun”

In addition to student points, staff can earn points as well! They can earn for great performance, presenting on a topic, turning in evaluation materials on time, and during minute-to-win competitions at faculty meetings! 

Student Rewards

McDougle focuses on intangible rewards. Praise and recognition over chips and candy. Students love to compete. They look forward to administrators bringing around “The Wheel” for the student of the month to spin and award points to their house. 

The program has become so successful that Jamie and her team are posting the leaderboard in multiple areas of their school. They had to do this because students were rerouting traffic in the halls in order to check the leaderboard during the day!

End of each quarter McDougle hosts games, and chants, and reveals the Quarter Champions to be displayed in the “Champions Courtyard”.

At the end of the year, the cumulative points champion is awarded. This has some real meaning behind it as the champion gets to decorate the cafe for the next year. So the entire school will see the house champions colors displayed proudly all year.

Evaluation

Periodically student and staff surveys are conducted. Data is collected to determine effectiveness. This is referral data, survey data, and points collection data. This data is shared with staff to reflect on the next steps and course corrections for the future.

Leading Change With Staff and Students

If change was easy then all programs would be successful and change in itself wouldn’t be all that necessary. But change is hard, and it is absolutely necessary. McDougle needed a new system to facilitate the change they needed. But when you introduce a new system to an organization there will be some pushback and resistance to the plan. 

When staff members aren’t all bought in Jaimi and her staff have a process for discussing the program using real data. 

  • They approach these conversations with that data in hand on the effectiveness of the program for their students. 
  • They then encourage these staff members to adopt the program by pointing to results showing the improvement and success of the early adopters.

The admin team at McDougle knew it wouldn’t just be some staff members who would be initially resistant to their program. Some students will care about points more than others.

That's why they are:

  • Including points in student behavior plans. 
  • Providing measurable and attainable goals and ensuring students can see the benefit of reaching those goals. 
  • Including tangible results (such as spinning the wheel) for their behavior improvements.

“People are staying honest and true to our mission and vision of using this house system to build our community.”

As an Assistant Principal, Jaimi isn’t looking at anything with rose-colored glasses. But with this program, they can pinpoint where they need to improve and grow. Now they have built a community that will allow them to take the next steps in their school culture journey.

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

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About the Event

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

Register Now

About the Event

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

About the Presenter

Jaimi graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Master of School Administration degree in 2019, and currently, is working on her doctoral degree in Education Leadership. Prior to being an Assistant Principal, she taught 5th grade at Glenwood Elementary for 10 years. She began her career teaching for 5 years at Bugg Creative Arts and Science Magnet School in Wake County.

Jaimi's teaching background helped her build a strong foundation in instructional practices and a love for helping children develop an excitement for learning. She firmly believes that strong relationships with students, families, and teachers are the foundation for the success of every student.

Outside of school, she finds great joy in spending time with my husband and children. They love to cheer on the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome, visit museums in the area, and explore parks and nature trails.

New job. New School. No data. How do you begin to improve school culture without the information needed to inform those decisions?

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

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Learn more about the author, 
Jaimi West
 

New job. New School. No data. How do you begin to improve school culture without the information needed to inform those decisions?

Imagine this scenario; you are a new administrator.

Your elementary teaching career has been greatly influenced and improved by utilizing PBIS in your classroom. But you have come to a middle school where PBIS isn’t alive and well. The kids aren’t as interested in it. Your staff has expressed logistical concerns with a paper bucks system and the fidelity just isn’t there.

You also want to utilize data to inform your practices. But what if the data your system produces isn’t up to the task? This is the situation Jaimi West found herself in when she started with McDougle Middle School.

As a teacher, Jaimi tried everything to keep her students engaged. She even printed and handed out “CHOMPS” bucks because her school was the Gators. 

But from interacting with staff in PLCs and committee meetings she learned that not all of her colleagues were up for the logistical demands that the paper system called for. They just couldn’t all sacrifice the time needed to do it with fidelity. 

But despite the hurdles, she still knew that kids need praise. She knew that praise is a fundamental driver for all humans. Even Middle Schoolers.

That need to motivate students brought Jaimi and her team to implement House Points...

All Reward Ideas for Students

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Homework Pass
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Fake The Funk
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Morning Meeting Leader
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Wristband
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Amazing Race
Grades 9-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Silly Science Experiments
Grades K-5
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
The A-List
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Kickback Vibes
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Spirit Day
Grades K-12
School
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Awards Show Afterparty
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Be a Comedian.
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Reward Ideas for Elementary School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
Theme Party
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Sports Tickets
Grades 3-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Family Feast
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Ice Cream Sundae Party
Grades K-12
Class/House
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Line Leader
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Dress Up or Down Day
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Wristband
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Seating Choice
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Drop Lowest Quiz
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Toys
Grades K-8
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Camp Read Away
Grades K-8
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Pen Pouch
Grades K-8
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Supplies & Merch
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free

All Event Ideas for Schools

💰
🎨
Decades Party
💰
🎨
Blood Drive
💰
🎨
Game Week
💰
🎨
Fake The Funk
💰
🎨
Music Fest
💰
🎨
Meet the Teacher
💰
🎨
Dance Party
💰
🎨
Movie Night
💰
🎨
Family Feast
💰
🎨
The Love Soiree
💰
🎨
Amazing Race

All Free Reward Ideas for Schools

🎉
👑
🎁
School Assembly
🎉
👑
🎁
Hat Pass
🎉
👑
🎁
Student Messenger
🎉
👑
🎁
Operate Equipment.
🎉
👑
🎁
Locker Choice
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Recess
🎉
👑
🎁
Blood Drive
🎉
👑
🎁
Drop Lowest Quiz

All Reward Ideas for High School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
The Love Soiree
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Firebird of the Month
Grades K-12
Student
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Tech Time
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Food-Themed Party
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Career Day
Grades 3-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Early Lunch Dismissal
Grades 9-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Video Game Rewards
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Technology
Grades 6-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Picnic Lunch
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Wristband
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Lost & Found Fashion Show
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
School Supplies & Merch
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Classroom Carousel
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Holidays Around the World
Grades K-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Reward Ideas for Middle School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Talent Show. 🎤
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Picnic Lunch
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Toys
Grades K-8
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Wristband
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Food-Themed Party
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Class Jobs
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Field Trip
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
♟️Chess With the Principal
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Technology
Grades 6-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Board Game Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Meme Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Firebird of the Month
Grades K-12
Student
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Student Reward & Incentive Ideas

💰
🎨
Trip to the Treasure Box
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Drop Lowest Quiz
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Silly School Leader
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Early Lunch Dismissal
Grades 9-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Technology
Grades 6-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
💰
🎨
Snack Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Create the Seating Chart
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Talk Time
Grades 6-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Wristband
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
TikTok with the Teacher
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
School Assembly
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Free Dress
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Board Game Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Lunch With the Teacher
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Design the Bulletin Board
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY

All Virtual Reward Ideas for Schools

🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Talent Show. 🎤
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Show & Tell
Grades K-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Podcast
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Morning Meeting Leader
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Student Spotlight Board
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Computer Games
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Digital Escape Rooms
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Privilege
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Stickers
Grades K-5
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Social Media Reporter
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Donate $1
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
See all Rewards

Want more ideas?

Rewards that Rock 🎸 has 100+ rewards, incentives, and event ideas to build your school culture.
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Learn more about the author, 
Jaimi West
 

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