Positive Behavior is Not a Dream...It's a Plan!
Another super hero teacher at LAMS is, Paul Vernon. Watch him in action and you will see why. I observed him on a Monday morning, just as the class was starting. His students come in, then go line up in front of him to give him quick reports about their weekend. By his welcoming attitude, it's evident he has cultivated a positive, personal connection with them.
He reminds them to start their agendas. As they do so, he begins walking around the room checking them. He casually makes conversation, making more personal connections. Mr. Vernon asks a student, “What did you do this weekend?”
“I went to KFC.” Another student, “I went to Target and got some Pikachu pajamas.”
Mr. V interrupts, “Let’s listen to announcements.”
Next, the ELA lesson begins. Today’s lesson is on “conjunctions.” He prepares to show the video, "Conjunction Junction." As he cues it up, he reminisces about when he was a kid. He’d get up early on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons, among them School House Rock. The students smile back as they imagine Mr. Vernon as a kid.
He makes known his expectation to see the conjunctions used in their spelling sentences today. Mr. Vernon models this on his computer which projects onto the Smart board. He shows them the rubric, and explains the criteria for an A+. Many students express enthusiastically their desire to get an A+. Next, the students break up into their groups: supported, emerging, and independent. Each group has an aide or two to help. Students all use devices on which to write their sentences.
Mr. Vernon explained to me his philosophy of personalization, "Students at middle school age reach a point where they reject the authoritarian voice and need to know that you, the teacher, cares. That's why I see myself more as a coach than a teacher. Sometimes I have to get tough, but always encouraging." One way he fosters this caring is by showing a genuine interest in each and every student, by taking time to listen to their stories.
This year he is focusing on an old, stand-by PBIS: verbal praise. He's "turning it up" to make it more personal and specific, avoiding general comments such as "good job." Other positive rewards he uses: allowing students to listen to music on headphones. He finds that this limits the distractions and can increase focus with his ADHD students because they are so easily distracted by their environment. Another favorite reward is popcorn, fresh-popped in the classroom microwave, and other snacks.
Paul Vernon strives to make every communication with his students a personal, positive experience. His easy-going style is contagious, and the students have caught it. He is another exemplary member of our staff. We are proud and lucky to have him.
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Effective Behavior Strategies Cheat Sheet