Why Now is the Best Time in History to Reset School Culture?
Why is Monday, or better yet the Monday after a break, the best time to start a behavior plan for a student? Because there has been a break in his/her environments. Our environments have a significant impact on our behavior. Do you act differently at a vacation setting than at work? We change according to the environments we function in. When we are encouraging change in a student's behavior, we need to consider how breaks and change in environments will prepare them to do something different. It offers space for newness.
Since the pandemic has offered a global time-out and an extended change in environments for all students, the re-entry from such a change is the richest time to reset school culture for all. Students will have either forgotten the rules of school, or assumed you have. I have been consulting with schools regarding behavior change for years. The most successful resets, for all students, have occurred following breaks. One school shifted from over 80 behavioral referrals a day down to an average of 15. That positive change occurred for several reasons.
There was a dedicated team of Deans who were willing to lead, and model, the charge. Their commitment extended to meeting with me over the break to review discipline data and collaborate on a school-wide professional development session to reestablish expectations for all upon the reopening of school. We had administrative support for the changes, and were able to create a consistent team approach from all staff. The formula remains the same for this critical time when school leaders are planning to welcome all students back after the extended break of virtual learning.
I participated in a national call a few months ago with district and state-wide leaders of behavior support for high schools. Representatives from several different states who were embarking on bringing students back into school buildings reported significantly less than expected behavior challenges. They attributed this to students being so happy and relieved to be back in school. That will be true for some. And the best way to support ALL students will be for leaders to be mindful about reestablishing school culture, setting all students up for success.