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...
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...
What are kids capable of?

What are kids capable of?

Kids can be so adorable, silly, stubborn, and—well—just plain immature sometimes that it’s easy to sell their abilities short. However, it’s also important to remember what else they are capable of. Here’s a short list of some of the amazing things that kids have done, or are currently doing around the world: Famous inventions by children Earmuffs We might not have much use for these in California, but 15-year-old Chester Greenwood (a native of Maine) asked his grandmother to sew fur onto a two-loop wire he had made, thus inventing the ear-warmers. Braille Louis Braille was just three years old in 1812 when he was injured and lost his vision. Later on, as a 15 year-old studying in Paris, he designed a system using raised dots in specific patterns to aid in reading. Cancer detection In her project, “Development of a Urine Test for the Early Detection of Cancer,” 16 year-old Janet developed a urine test for the early detection of cancer. The use of a urine test for cancer screening would be less invasive, less unpleasant, and less expensive than current cancer screening methods, increasing compliance rates and allowing for the early detection of cancer. The toy truck Robert W. Patch became the youngest person to ever receive a U.S. patent when, at the ripe age of 6, he invented a toy truck. Meet two more amazing youngsters: Richard Turere Age: 13 From: Kenya Position: Inventor Richard’s invention saved his community’s livestock from lions—and it also saved the lions themselves Jaden Carlson Age: 12 From: Boulder, CO Position: Musician Jaden and her band continue to gain fans in Colorado and around the country, even headlining the historic Fox Theatre. Finally, if...
Middle school grades and attendance are highly predictive of high school success

Middle school grades and attendance are highly predictive of high school success

Test scores, schmest scores. According to a November 2014 study published by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicagoCCSR): Grades and attendance—not test scores—are the middle grade factors most strongly connected with both high school and college success. In fact, grades and attendance matter more than test scores, race, poverty, or other background characteristics for later academic success. Key findings from the report include: Only those students who leave eighth grade with GPAs of at least 3.0 have a moderate chance of earning a 3.0 GPA in high school—the threshold for being considered college-bound. and Strategies aimed at attendance improvement could likely have as much or more of a payoff for high school and college graduation as efforts aimed at improving test scores because test scores are hard to move and do not show much variability throughout middle and high school. Meanwhile, attendance shows considerably more variation and middle school attendance is much more predictive of passing high school classes than test scores. What are we doing to ensure that our children maintain a B average (or better) from grades 5 to 8? How do we make sure they attend the most school days possible, year in and year out? How we answer those questions may very well determine how successful our students are in high school and...

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