For the first posting, which we hope will generate some discussion, we would like to share with you some of the results of the action plans we asked teams to complete at the in-service.  We asked school teams to identify strategies they might use to improve teacher-student relations. The most common strategy was to give short handwritten, positve notes to students, including “post-ems.”   11 schools chose this strategy. Several also mentioned positive referrals to the office.

Whereas some schools recommended this at the individual classroom level, others endorsed it schoolwide. Several realistic obstacles were noted: time, cost, kids wanting more than a note, some kids not being able to read the note, and singling out certain kids.

For what they’re worth, here are a few comments about this strategy from Patti, me, and others with the State PBS team:

First, we strongly agree that this is a simple and very worthwhile strategy. We also think the obstacles can be easily avoided.  It really doesn’t take much time (maybe 30 seconds) to write a very brief, yet meaningful, positive comment. One comment a week to each student would take maybe 15 minutes per class per week.  Cost?  If you or the school can’t afford real post-ems, simply use small pieces of paper. Try it, and you are likely to find that 15 minutes a week doing this saves you much, much more time taken away from instruction to correct misbehavior.

A few suggestions:

  • Mix it up:
    • what you write (e.g., specific improvements since September, recent achievements, positive expectations (e.g., “Based on your behavior recently, I know you’re going to have another good day. Thank you!”),
    •  what you write it on (e.g., on a returned paper, a one inch piece of paper, formal stationary, a paper airplane, etc. )
    • how you deliver it (e.g., in the desk, formal envelope, inside of book, mailed home, etc.)
  • Have students do the same: invite them to give you a positive note about someone for you to deliver (this avoids encouraging students to pass notes in class). Also, invite them to pass positive notes to you about what you did (this encourages looking for the positives).
  • Send positive notes home. 3 schools included this technique.
  • Suggest these techniques to others at a faculty meeting or in a newsletter, while giving everyone a packet of post-ems (hopefully, purchased by the school or PTA/PTO.  You might want to include the handout we gave at the inservice on using rewards and praise, which is attached below (titled “Activity 6 Form 7.1”).

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