Education Revolution at SHS Final


When I got suspended, I
would stay home and drink. I hated my life. Um, I grabbed a couple of
belts and hung ’em on a door and strapped them together
and tried to hang myself. There’s people behind me,
there’s people in front of me, there’s people beside me. And when you go to talk,
they all look at you. It’s really creepy. Um, yeah, I got suspended for throwing scissors
across the room. It’s kind of bad. I didn’t throw them
at someone though. Bipolar f— in’
issues up the ass… Girls, please… They need to f—–‘
chill out… Growing up, watching
my dad, like, hit my mom…and I think that’s
where I got my anger from. Come work it out with me. Russ? That’s a ‘no’…right? Students, who might be
labeled ‘the bad kid, are simply students
who…we haven’t found a way to reach them. We don’t know what it is in that
kid’s past that’s making them necessarily behave that way. I will allow you to
come back tomorrow. And I’m not going to overlook
this, ’cause we’re going to have a little
chat about this. But we’re going to
have a little chat about this when you’re sober. Walking into Somersworth
High School, I knew that I was walking in,
my first year, into a school that had one of the highest
dropout rates in the state. My freshman year, some of my friends would
come to school trashed. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I’m like, I don’t
get how they could. And I don’t get how
teachers could not tell that they were drunk. Like, puking in class… Freshman year I came here. No one really helped me. They didn’t really
know my situation. Kind of didn’t really care… So you could literally come
in the door for three years, flunk every class, and no one
would really say much to you. A girl in the grade younger
than me was being told that because she was a nigger,
she was gonna be killed; her family was gonna be killed. So it wasn’t that I
didn’t like school. It was, I didn’t like the
atmosphere of the school. I was always suspended. Always suspended. Detentions all the time. I lived in detention. Don’t f– – ing touch it! I still…I would do
anything for attention. That’s what I wanted. It’s not mine! How many times do I have to tell
you not to f—ing touch it? I wanted to get in trouble. As unrealistic as
that may sound, I wanted to get in trouble. Obviously, the way
we’re doing business for addressing behavior
is not working. So how can we change that? This is a concentration
and an ensemble… Teachers would always say,
‘If they would only behave, I could teach them more.’ And when, you know, positive
behavior supports was introduced to us, it kind of just
seemed like the correct fit. Um, gosh…hopefully I
can come up with that. Positive behavior
intervention systems? Public behavior intervention
something? I have never heard of PBIS. Public behavior intervention
system. Positive behavior
intervention in school? What does that ‘s’ stand for? It’s always that ‘s’
that…I don’t know. Supports, yeah…the
‘s’ always gets it. [Teachers cheering…] The thing that I like
about the PBIS structure is that you’re not just
going on feelings and what we think
people feel like and what we think the
students feel like and what the teachers want. Everything’s data driven. If I had to explain PBIS in one
sentence I would say it’s a way of looking at kids in a
positive way every day. It’s that notion and focusing
on what kids should do instead. When you talk about behavior,
it’s all about ‘Don’t do this.’ Talk about academics,
it’s all about ‘Do this.’ That shift in thinking
from ‘I’m gonna nail you if you break the rule’ versus
‘Hmm…I need to teach you and then recognize when you do
that behavior’ is fundamental. That, in essence, in my
mind, is really the process that we call School-wide
PBS or PBIS. We’re just all learning, and today’s learning curve
might have been a little steeper than you would have preferred. You don’t have to rule
with an iron fist, and I think the teachers
are realizing that. Vanilla, s’il vous plait. Oh! Merci monsieur. The relationship
between students and teachers is a lot more open. It’s gotten over the years…and
students aren’t afraid of teachers as much. There you go. You’re welcome. Can I have chocolate please? Yes, you may. Nice job on the caf. Kids, if you stop
them in the hallway, they would know the
behavior expectations. Consistency, understanding
one another, and teamwork are the
three essential things to the PBIS system. It’s an approach for
organizing best practices. And then somebody says, ‘Well, what’s that organization
look like?’ We say that it’s really a
continuum of interventions. What do you have in
place for all kids? What do we do with the kids
who need a little extra? And what do we do with the kids who need something
much more intensive? It’s about teaching kids
specifically social skills that allow them to be
successful as they move through their school
day, as they move through their community,
as they move through their experiences
at home. And then do you have
the secondary… Yeah, right here. Good. That’s a really
good view of those, too. I think there’s a lot
of agreement nationally that we need reform of
education…that we need to change the social
dynamic in schools. But a lot of people don’t
even know where to start, and I think PBIS gives you
the framework, the tools and the system to make
that reform happen. We just kind of wanted
to introduce one of our latest projects
that is trying to build connections among
teachers and students. We created a Chain Reaction Club which is a student
leadership voice. And one of the things
that they did in the Chain Reaction Club was
really look at data and say, you know, kids do
better in school if they’re simply connected
and known by a staff person. So they did an activity
at a faculty meeting where they took the rosters
of students and put them in the teacher’s room and
asked teachers to put a star if they had a positive
connection with that student, hoping that we’d
see lots of stars. This poor freshman
has no checks. And in many situations we did,
but they also saw students that only had one or two stars. The students went back to the
faculty and presented that data and said these are the students
that you need to get to know. I think it’s really
important that we think of those students who…some
of the names from our data that we collected who don’t have
these connections…and maybe how that’s impacting their
school environment and, you know, their life outside of school even…how it’s
really bringing them down. ‘Cause you’ve been doing a
good job since you came here. It’s been noticed. I think you’ve adjusted
pretty well. What do you think? Part of creating
a positive climate in our school has also been
our positive reinforcements. Ice cream is
that way… chocolate’s
around the corner. Having ice
cream socials when the kids have improved
their NECAP scores… I am the sprinkle king! Or they have improved respect
or they’ve cleaned the cafeteria and maintained that for a month. Today’s our way of saying
‘Thank you for being you.’ Enjoy your ice cream. We also have some other events that are happening once you’re
done with your little treat. [applause] ♪ ♪ OK, can I have some
ice cream please? Yes. We have one flavor. It’s vanilla. I don’t really like vanilla. Well then you should’ve done
better on the NECAP test. [laughter] Along also with improving the
school climate is what we have done with family engagement. We really had to look at
that piece and recognize that we want our
families and parents in the community more
involved in our school. Another I think unique thing about Somersworth is a
lunchtime group called S-Cubed which is our social skills group that peers just help
each other come together and tackle various challenges
that peers are facing. What helps motivate you? Not getting sent to the office. OK. Have you guys ever
gotten a teacher’s attention in a negative way before? Yes. OK. Do you mind
talking about that and maybe what changed for you? Well, I know that I’ve
gotten yelled at before for things that I haven’t done. And it feels even worse
when…’cause it kind of feels that they didn’t notice you
before and that you’re the type of person who wouldn’t
do something like that. OK. More and more, we read about high schools using
just the punishment side of the equation…the
zero tolerance…and that leaves out a lot of kids. They come into school, perhaps
angry/upset to begin with, and punishment is not
going to do a thing to change their behavior. What are the things
that bug you? A bad grade can make you think,
‘Oh, what’s my mom gonna do?’ Give us your report card. You’re mom’s gonna find
out…she’s gonna yell at you. What we have to be able
to say to all those kids and families is every single kid
belongs in this public school. And we’re gonna make it
work for every single kid. And we can’t afford the social,
emotional, and financial cost of sending so many
kids somewhere else where they’re not monitored, where we don’t really
have a good handle on what they’re getting
for instruction, and where they’re eventually
going to be discharged to come back home…to what? Our school isn’t perfect, but
I think the big difference is that our school is trying. And a lot of the kids in
our school do recognize that and just feel that they’re
treated with respect by multiple levels-by
administration, by staff, by students, by everyone. And when you feel respected by everyone you feel just
like, you know, incredible. Today the difference
is that students know that somebody’s going to care
if they don’t come into school or not in the morning. Somebody’s actually
going to know. Somebody’s probably
going to track them. And if they’re really having
problems, someone’s going to sit down and try to problem
solve with them. And sometimes we get
really, really lucky and go out on a limb and create
opportunities for kids, and they pull it together. And you know…it
makes it worthwhile. Not everyday’s going
to be a success, but one success carries
me a real long way. Even though I was probably the
definition of a bad student, the teachers, they just never
stopped, which was good. They weren’t just like,
‘Oh, you’re a failure. Drop out.’ Like, it wasn’t like that. They wanted me to succeed. They cared about me. And then I realized that by
the end of sophomore year. I was like, ‘These people
actually care about me, and I just don’t
care about myself.’

1 thought on “Education Revolution at SHS Final”

  1. Jesus Christ I just saw this and all I can say is bull shit I go here I know the teachers and faculty and it is nothing like that

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *