Guest post by Jeff Schneekloth
One of the best ways school leaders can encourage positive behavior is by recognizing it when we see it. Too often, we spend so much time documenting student misbehaviors that we forget to acknowledge students when they are doing something right. Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading Taft Middle School’s PARRT Program, which works to identify all of the positive acts and accomplishments our students do.
PARRT is an acronym that stands for:
- Personal best
- Active listening
The program involves tiered levels of supports, a curriculum, and student learning expectations that are formally taught to students.
The most significant aspect of Taft’s PARRT program is student acknowledgement. Taft’s staff does a tremendous job with identifying student efforts formally through a variety of PARRT systems, as well as informally through conversations, notes home and positive phone calls. We recognize students through a variety of avenues, including Iowa Assessments Awards, Academic Awards, Intramural Awards, Sports Awards, Drama Awards, and being designated as PARRT Students of the Week and PARRT Students of the Month.
Our Positive Referral Program is the most significant component of our acknowledgement system. This program encourages teachers to send students to the office for doing their PARRT at school. Student recipients receive a special certificate, a “Snick Buck” (“Snick” is an abbreviated version of my name) that is good for $1.00 at our student store, and a nice communication home to their parents/guardians along with a picture of the student. The student’s picture is prominently displayed on my office door as a tribute to their positive school contributions.
Here’s an example of a positive message that we send home to parents and students:
You may know that Taft has a Positive Referral System where teachers may send students to the office for simply being GREAT and doing their “PARRT” (Personal Best, Active Listening, Respect, Responsibility and Trustworthiness) at Taft. And yes! I am pleased to share with you that H received a Positive Referral today from Mrs. C for turning in a $10 bill that he found on school property. It’s honest kids like your son that make Taft such a wonderful place to learn. It was certainly a pleasure presenting H with his Positive Referral today. I hope that H is excited enough about his outstanding contributions to share this with you tonight. Have a super rest of the day!!
Though many schools have similar programs, it is not only what schools do, but also how they do it. Taft is among the schools who implement this program with fidelity, and it permeates everything we do. Our efforts to recognize positive student behaviors have helped to facilitate positive relationships between students and staff and to promote a culture of learning. By focusing on the positive things our students do, the negative student behaviors have notably decreased. Since the program’s inception, Taft has seen a 52 percent decline in student discipline referrals.
As you lead your school, shift your focus from what students are doing wrong to what students are doing right. I promise that you’ll be pleased with the results.
What do you do to acknowledge students and promote positive behavior?
Jeff Schneekloth has been the associate principal of Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids, IA, for seven years, and he has served as a school administrator for 14 years. He is the 2017 Iowa Assistant Principal of the Year.