What’s your positive-to-negative comment ratio?

What’s your positive-to-negative comment ratio?

A new year is underway, and that means it was back-to-school for “Mr. Rouch” in my day job as a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at David A. Brown Middle School in Lake Elsinore Unified School District. You may or may not be aware that teachers often receive a couple work days before the students step foot on campus. This is valuable time for preparing classrooms, setting up gradebooks, loading student rosters into other digital applications, and receiving professional development. This year, two Program Specialists from the district’s Special Education department visited my site and trained the teachers on how to support all students—not just those with diagnosed disabilities. The training came with a handout of research-based practices that support students’ behavior and social-emotional development (you can download the full handout below). One component, number 15, was highlighted in particular: Five positive comments, gestures, and interactions to every one correction, reprimand, or negative interaction (5 to 1 ratio). This ratio has been extensively researched and proven to result in “behavior contrast” for rapid learning of expectations. Negative intention to neutral stimuli is a thinking component for emotionally driven problems; negative intention is harder to form in the face of unremitting unconditional positive regard. This idea may seem obvious, but it’s actually very difficult to do without being intentional in our efforts. This is why I am going to renew my focus in this area in my own classroom. I will be physically tracking my positive-to-negative interaction ratio for all students throughout the year, especially with those students who would be classified as “difficult” or potential “behavior problems.” But what’s good in the classroom is also good in...
Cow weight-guessing and why community engagement matters

Cow weight-guessing and why community engagement matters

I heard the following program while driving to school this morning. You may wonder what a “guess-the-cow’s-weight” story could possibly have to do with the stock market—much less school board governance, but I actually see a pretty strong connection. Take a listen:   So why is this seemingly odd phenomenon so important to Romoland School District? Well, community engagement is more than just a feel-good idea. This clip is a great illustration of why community engagement matters so much. In fact, The Wisdom of Crowds would argue that: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant–better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. Simply put, six parents attending an LCAP meeting isn’t as good for Romoland as 60 parents attending (which isn’t as good as 600, and so on). The more our community gets involved, the stronger we become as a school district. So what are we doing to stay engaged with our community’s schools? Are we trying to do it alone, or are we making the effort to bring others into the herd? That’s the challenge I place on myself, and it’s the same challenge I issue to anyone reading this post as well....
6 tips to help parents stay involved

6 tips to help parents stay involved

An incredible poster was recently shared with me that is definitely worth passing on. It contains six simple-yet-powerful tips for staying involved in our children’s lives. I’m sure we all agree that Romoland School District’s kids are worth our renewed focus in these areas. The poster was created by Gwinnett County Public Schools and you can check it out...
Transparent California

Transparent California

For those who might not know, transparentcalifornia.com is a site that allows you to look up the salary and/or pension of any California public employee, which includes those of us involved in K-12 education. From their About page: Transparent California is provided by the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute as a public service.   Transparent California is dedicated to providing accurate, comprehensive and easily searchable information on the compensation of public employees in California.   Complete and accurate information is necessary to increase public understanding of government and help decision makers, including elected officials and voters, make informed decisions. Just click the link or image above, and type the name of the employee in whom you’re interested. While the tool shouldn’t be “weaponized” or used as a “gotcha,” some questions may be worth considering, such as:   Does better pay make better teachers? That is, is there a correlation between teacher pay and teacher effectiveness? FWIW, Transparent California would argue the answer to this question is “no.” Check out their Consolidated 2014 K-12 Press Release to see the data. Should a teacher’s or administrator’s pay be tied to their performance? Obviously this is a hot-button topic. While much of the research in this area has pointed to the ineffectiveness of performance-based pay, one study conducted by Harvard University’s Roland G. Fryer, Jr., The University of Chicago’s John List and Steven D. Levitt (co-author of the bestselling Freakonomics), and the University of California San Diego’s Sally Sadoff offers a unique viewpoint, arguing that “framing a teacher incentive program in terms of losses rather than gains leads to improved student outcomes.” Click here for a quick Washington Post rundown of the...
Happy first day of school!

Happy first day of school!

I wanted to wish everyone a happy first day of school. The 2015-2016 school year is full of promise, and I know great things are in store for the entire district. As you prepare and transport your previous cargo to school today, please be extra cautious to ensure the safety of all of our students. Here’s to a great year!...

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