FES has fun teaching expectations the first two weeks of school
Submitted by Joe Clauser
Students at Fredericktown Elementary School spent the first two weeks of the school year reviewing expectations and practicing procedures to ensure a great school year. Then they celebrated with a block party and snow cones.
As part of the school’s behavior system, a set of core expectations in all settings remind students that they can BE KIND, BE STRONG, and BE WELL. These three words have been chosen to align the school’s Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) systems.
Students are expected to BE KIND by taking care of school materials, taking care of their supplies, and following directions. They can BE STRONG by following voice level expectations and looking at and listening to the speaker. They will BE WELL by keeping their hands, feet and other objects to themselves. Area-specific expectations are added in various areas throughout the school, including classrooms, restrooms, hallways, playground, and cafeteria. They are posted around the building, and staff teach and review them on a regular basis.
Classes resumed for the school year on August 22. FES wasted no time in setting expectations for the year. Teachers spent the first few days teaching the expectations and allowing students to practice them.
The amount of time that students are actively and productively engaged in learning is a strong determinant of achievement. However, research continues to demonstrate that in many classrooms, as much as half of the school day can be lost to discipline and other non-instructional activities.
“When we have clear expectations that are stated in student-friendly language and implemented school-wide, teachers are able to spend less time correcting misbehavior and more time teaching,” FES Principal Joe Clauser said.
Kindergarten teachers Heather Miller and Chelsea Tawfall are PBS coaches at FES. They work with a team of other staff members to implement the behavior system school-wide.
“Teaching expectations early is key to a successful school year,” Tawfall said. “It’s extremely important to make sure our students have clear and consistent expectations. This allows them to feel more confident, engaged and connected to the school community.”
“When having clear expectations, students know exactly what is expected of them,” Miller said. “When they know they are following expectations, they gain confidence. Students take on responsibility for their behavior which in turn helps them stay on task and increase learning.”
After spending two weeks learning, practicing, and reviewing the behavior expectations, students were treated to a block party and snow cones. The block party has become an annual event at FES to celebrate the completion of the first two weeks of school and have a little fun before a three-day Labor Day weekend.
One grade level at a time, students enjoyed snow cones and dance music in front of the school, Friday afternoon. This year, the district mascot, Freddie the Blackcat, made a surprise visit during the block party. Students were excited to see him and give him a big hug and high-five. He even got a little groovy at times.
“Kids need to have fun, and the best part of my job is making learning fun for them,” Clauser said.
Each month, students who do not have an office referral for the month will be able to participate in the PBS reward for the month. These activities are chosen for their appeal to the students and used to celebrate their positive behavior throughout the month. Some favorites include a dance party, tug-of-war, and scooter races.
Clauser said staff try to set an example for students when it comes to having fun.
“I want our students to see all of the staff having fun and enjoying the time spent with them,” Clauser said. “I think it’s important for building strong, healthy relationships that will translate into improved behavior and academic achievement.”
At the end of the block party, Clauser used the leftover shaved ice to make snowballs to throw at the students and teachers. Of course, several staff members joined in the fun as well.