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February 6, 2019

Do You Need School-Wide Goals? One Master Principal Weighs In

See why LiveSchool leader Crystal Sorrells launched school-wide behavior goals at Tyner Middle Academy.
LiveSchool 101: Happy Teachers, Engaged Students, and Better Data
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When Crystal Sorrells became Principal at Tyner Middle Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, she saw an opportunity to improve the school’s positive behavior program. She had used LiveSchool previously and knew they could leverage an electronic PBIS system to create consistent, school-wide goals.

By introducing LiveSchool, Crystal not only streamlined their method for recognizing behaviors, she also saved teachers' time, and laid the foundation for an inclusive school culture.

Before LiveSchool, teachers were spending time printing, distributing, and tracking down paper rewards.

Tyner teachers and staff were committed to helping students develop a sense of integrity. They just didn’t have the best way of achieving that goal.

Tyner had a well-established behavior rubric: PERC - Participation, Effort, Respect, and Cooperation. The school also believes in 8 “Keys of Excellence,” which include reminders such as “Failure Leads to Success,” and “Speak with Good Purpose.”

Teachers used to recognize good behavior with paper rewards, so they spent valuable hours every week printing cards. But even when students earned one, they didn’t always get to redeem their prize. Every precious card faced punishing conditions: hours on end in a fourth grader’s backpack, tumbling out of a back pocket during recess, getting squashed under a lunch tray. No one had much confidence in the system. It was time to launch school-wide behavior goals.

Crystal decided it was time for a new approach to classroom management.

Tyner switched to electronic behavior recognition with LiveSchool. Teachers no longer have to worry about settling disputes over lost cards. Tyner is finally able to move forward with a reliable reward system.

Plus, no one gets stuck with the task of printing and cutting paper rewards every week!

The school introduced all sorts of creative prizes for good behavior.

With the LiveSchool launch, Crystal and the rest of her staff felt inspired to revamp the school’s prize offerings.

Tyner, like many schools, has a limited budget for tangible rewards. So they’ve found creative ways to build excitement for their students, without having to maintain a stock of big-ticket items.

They hold House Point competitions between classes, so students are motivated to earn rewards for their team. Teachers and staff create plenty of fanfare around the weekly leader announcements, including a drum roll and a grand reveal for the whole school.

And when the entire school reaches a certain number of points, students get a surprise “fun day,” where core classes are held in the morning, and the afternoon is full of games. Individual grades also have their own point goals: if they reach their goal by the time progress reports come around, that class gets to celebrate with some fun mid-day activities.

Group festivities give each class some team bonding time. And as it turns out, a spontaneous break from routine is just as motivating as a sweatshirt or trinket.

Plus, teachers and staff are able to check the points balance and plan ahead - so the kids get a “surprise” while the grown-ups can strategize (and plan for an extra cup of coffee that day).

Students enjoy an afternoon of fun activities when the whole school earns enough rewards

Now, behavior expectations are consistent throughout the building.

The entire school now uses one system, with shared benchmarks. And Crystal can make sure that every teacher consistently rewards the same behaviors.

The result? Students know exactly what’s expected of them, regardless of which teacher’s leading the class. Crystal has noticed that the kids are now focused on the specific actions that earn them points.

When students know that every teacher is looking for those same things, it’s easier for them to adjust, correct, and model those behaviors.

LiveSchool shows administrators how students and teachers interact.

Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from an electronic system. LiveSchool is also a powerful resource for administrators. School staff (as well as teachers and parents) have data showing them how students have developed throughout the year.

Crystal uses this information to support her teachers. If she notices that someone isn’t awarding many points, she can help them provide more positive feedback to their students.

She can also see how well students are modeling specific aspects of their behavior rubric; she doesn’t have to guess based on gut instinct. If she sees that students aren’t earning many integrity points, she can question it: “what’s going on there? Why are they not getting points for integrity? That should be something that we see every day.”

She discusses those behavior trends with teachers - and sometimes, they realize that those values are displayed in their school, but just aren’t being recognized consistently. Then, they can come up with an action plan to increase awareness around those specific behaviors.

With an electronic reward system, parents, teachers and staff can see how students have progressed.

Crystal didn’t have to change Tyner’s core philosophy to make an impact. After adjusting their classroom management strategy, students became more confident that their good behavior choices would be recognized consistently. And shared behavior goals bring all of the classes together as a team.

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