Youth Court as an Alternative to Suspension

The data are in: Suspension and expulsion do not work. Not only do they fail to improve student behavior and create safer schools as was once believed, they actually lead to negative outcomes. Studies have found that the higher the rates of suspension and expulsion in a school, the lower the scores on standardized achievement tests, regardless of socioeconomic status or student demographics (Skiba & Rausch, 2006). Furthermore, students who are suspended show increases in withdrawal, avoidance of school staff, stigmatization among peers and decreased academic performance (Costenbader & Markson, 1998). So what is an effective alternative?

Implementation Science: From Dangerous Canyons to Fields of Dreams

I recently traveled to San Francisco to hear Dean Fixsen, founder of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), deliver a keynote address on Implementation Science. During my flight there I had a birds-eye view to our country’s diversely beautiful landscape -- green fields blooming with this season’s crops and brown canyons that reminded me of those that Evel Knievel attempted to jump on his motorcycle. As I listened to Fixsen I reflected on how that landscape was a perfect metaphor for the importance of paying attention to implementation drivers during school improvement.

Beginning the Day Right with Positive Behavioral Supports – October 2015

Sometimes a student’s negative experience on the bus can set the tone for the whole day. At Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Pearl River, PBIS Coach Kathleenann Cool reports that they were able to improve overall behavior on school buses, resulting in significant decreases in bus discipline referrals.

Behavioral Improvements through Self-Monitoring – November 2014

Brett Sloane from Valley Cottage Elementary in Nyack shared that a student at the school was exhibiting highly problematic behavior on the bus and not responding to any of the consequences. Serious consideration was being given to permanently removing the student from the bus. However, the staff decided to implement a new set of strategies based on positive behavioral supports. According to the coach, “What a turnaround!! His behavior on the bus improved dramatically and he became a model bus student!”

Resistance to Change? Meet Them Where They Are

A few weeks into my new position as the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) coach for my school team, I enthusiastically explained to a veteran staff member how we were implementing a new framework to address student behavior that would lead to a safer, more positive school climate through teaching and reinforcing all students for appropriate behaviors.

Money in the Bank: Social-Emotional Learning and the 11-1 Ratio

It seems almost intuitive that if we teach students in our schools the essential social-emotional skills they need for life that it would not only benefit them greatly but would benefit society as a whole as well. However, because of the tremendous pressure in schools today to focus all efforts strictly on academics we focus very little on teaching social-emotional skills.

Staying On-Task with Routines and Responding – May 2014

At Foxfire School in Yonkers, teachers Ivan Vasquez and Lucia Ricciardi have seen their students, especially students with disabilities, blossom in response to some explicit teaching strategies they are implementing. The students show increased focus and on-task behavior. Ivan has seen a reduction in anxiety as students learn that every one of them will have to respond, every one of them will make mistakes, but every one of them will be supported in arriving at the correct response. Lucia has seen a significant increase in student engagement and participation and in students’ ability to answer critical thinking questions, to dig deeper into the text and to share their findings with each other.

Improving All Students’ Mental Health Outcomes: Start with Why & Remember Learning to Ride a Bike

I knew my purpose for learning to ride a bike and it was so compelling that I was going to do whatever it took to get there. Long before reading Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011) or watching his “Golden Circle” TED Talk (third most viewed TED talk ever!), I learned to ride a bike because I started with my “Why” – my goal, my purpose, my motivation, my belief. We all did. We learned to ride bikes because we wanted to go someplace. We endured and triumphed over the litany of details that comprise riding a bike because we were excited about our Why. We didn’t persist in our attempts to ride our bikes just to not fall off and not get hurt; we persisted so that we could achieve our Why— independence, exploration, going someplace.
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