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February 18, 2019

Recognizing Students' Positive Behavior Goes a Long Way

Improve your PBIS program by recognizing students' positive behavior. One teacher shares her success story!
LiveSchool 101: Happy Teachers, Engaged Students, and Better Data
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Erika Irwin, Assistant Principal of STEAMM Academy in Canton City, OH, has always been committed to a system of rewarding students’ positive behaviors. She started out by using manual behavior tracking sheets (think shared Google forms). While that system worked, it was far from perfect: teachers didn’t have much trust that points were being tracked accurately since information wasn’t kept in a central database.

They reached a point where they knew they needed a better solution. They considered SWIS  and Class Dojo, but needed a shared system that created common language and expectations school-wide. They were drawn to LiveSchool for the school-wide tools, where Class Dojo only provides tools for the classroom. .

Thanks to Erika’s confidence in the system, STEAMM Academy became one of the first schools in the state of Ohio to implement LiveSchool, and are now a Silver level PBIS school.

And teachers find it easier to recognize positive behavior and trust in the system.

Everyone has access to the app: teachers, principals, students, parents. They no longer have to worry about hall passes disappearing into a bookbag, the infamous black market of behavior bucks, or losing their data forever with one errant click in a spreadsheet.

Erika says the school-wide accessibility alone helped to earn buy-in from school teachers and staff.

Everybody owns their own data and we are all connected. There was instant, incredible buy-in.

Plus, the school’s PBIS team now has an invaluable resource. They can rely on the support of LiveSchool’s staff, who are dedicated to helping them make the most of the app. Erika has plenty of other responsibilities competing for her attention, so she’s especially thankful for the humans behind the tech. “There hasn’t been one thing that your company hasn’t been able to help us fix or change.”

Erika kept the momentum going after the launch.

Any change to daily operations comes with a learning curve. And Erika was prepared.

Throughout the LiveSchool launch, Erika took time to remove any challenges teachers could potentially have with the new system. She partnered one-on-one with teachers to help them get logged in, and even took care of downloading the app to their devices.

Once everyone was comfortable accessing the app, she consistently rewarded the top users, celebrating those who gave out the most positive points.

LiveSchool reinforced their existing behavior rubric.

STEAMM Academy already had a rubric in place. LiveSchool made it easier for them to align specific behaviors with their values, and keep expectations for students aligned school-wide.

The app is customized with specific behavior buttons under each value in their rubric. So students can see how their specific behaviors and rewards reflect the school’s individual values.

It gave Erika a chance to consider how students can exemplify the school’s values throughout their day. “What does ‘be prepared’ look like when you’re in the hallway? What does it look like when you’re in the lunchroom?”

Every student can earn rewards throughout their day.

In a district where many families can’t spare the cash for items from the school store, students now have another way of earning those perks. Their positive behaviors add up to special privileges, pizza or t-shirts.

When trying to come up with new rewards, the school’s PBIS team requested some stakeholder feedback: they asked kids what they wanted. Some of the most popular options aren’t even material goods. The students love the privilege of sitting with a friend at lunch or playing a game of chess.

Staff members can see trends across the entire school.

Erika uses the app to “check the pulse of the building.” She can see how many positive points are given out across grades, and for which behaviors. The school strives to maintain a positive to negative point ratio of 3:1, and LiveSchool allows her to gauge how close they are to their target throughout the year.

Erika can also see changes in positive and negative points for individual students. If one student tends to get negative points from one teacher but positives from another, she arranges for both teachers to meet and discuss potential causes. “Sometimes it honestly just has to do with time of day. Then, we can look at that too. That’s really helpful.”

Parents are more connected with their kids’ school day.

With the app, parents can gauge how their kid’s day is going in real time. This has led to more family involvement overall. If their student is in the principal’s office, parents sometimes take the initiative to contact Erika even before she calls them.

They know how their kids are doing. It’s really opened up the communication between home and school.

Now, the school is a leader in their district

After implementing LiveSchool, STEAMM has gone from being a state-recognized Bronze level PBIS school, to a Silver level. And Erika has the school-wide data she needs to make smart decisions going forward.

More importantly, LiveSchool gives teachers and staff an opportunity to bring positivity to every single student.

It’s so awesome. For us, it just re-emphasized the need for consistent positive reinforcement, reminding them who they are, why they’re here, that they have a purpose.

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