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Do the right thing & earn a ‘Rooster Buck’

“Do right.”
w Georgia Southern coaching legend Erk Russell

When the late, great Russell simplified the countless rules for his college football players into just two works, maybe his motto was part of the logic that could have gone into the state department of education’s newest behavior program.
Screven County’s school system has chosen to be one of Georgia’s public school districts to participate in “Positive Behavior Support.” Its local program began with the first day of school, Aug. 3.
Schools across the state have each reviewed PBS and established a blueprint for their individual schools. In Screven County, teachers have rewarded its students in elementary, middle and high schools for doing the right thing.
The elementary and middle schools have distributed “Rooster Bucks” to deserving students, while the high school officials also have passed out rewards. While the students receive credits, the schools become more in tune with why students make ill-advised decisions.
PBS is a collaborative team-based, educative, proactive and functional process to developing effective interventions for inappropriate behavior. It is a general term that refers to the application of positive inventions and system changes to achieve socially important change.
“We just like to keep students in school. Period,” said High school assistant principal Brian Scott. “Students definitely need to be in the classroom as much as possible and sometimes negative behavior keeps students from that.”
The program is based on a problem-solving model and aims to prevent inappropriate behavior through teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. It is an application of a behaviorally based system approach to enhancing the capacity of schools, families and communities to design effective environments.
“We want to look at the discipline data and stop events before they occur,” Scott said. “We want to be more proactive than reactive. Part of PBS is to get the community involved too.”
The PBS focus is on creating and sustaining school environments that improve lifestyle results like personal, health, social, academic and work for students by making problem behavior less effective, efficient and relevant while making desired behavior more functional.
PBS is not a scripted program with a set script. The components are individualized to meet the specific needs of each school. Additionally, the parts change to meet the specific needs of the school – population changes, maintain interest, and address multiple levels of inappropriate behavior.
“The rewards system is a small component of it,” said Scott of PBS, which at SCHS could involve reduced admission into sporting events or even a special reserved vehicle parking spot. “We want to prevent the trouble before it happens. We want to look at why did it happen and where did it happen.”
The team uses discipline data to identify patterns and possible causes of inappropriate behavior. This information then is used to develop effective interventions to decrease inappropriate behavior and increase desired behavior across campus.
Some of the elementary school’s classroom reward ideas for students is to use their “The Big Red Way Rockin Rooster Buck” for shoes off day, eat with friend, free computer time, teacher treasure box, popcorn day, free time, bring stuffed animal, and library helper.
“The emphasis for us is on rewarding the children for doing the right thing,” said SCES principal Becky Martin.
The Big Red’s Way is “be respectful of self, others and surroundings; be responsible and prepared at all times; and be ready to follow directions and procedures.”
As an ultimate reward for the students earning “bucks,” the Waltens Acrobatics and Dog Show will come to the school.
“They can cash them in. They can buy things at school store with Rooster Bucks and they can save them to go to the dog show,” Martin said.
The state department of education reports that students in Georgia schools come from many different backgrounds and cultures that view “behavior” differently. Futhermore, many students are making poor choices when confronted with a conflict.
Consequently, students must be taught to behave at school to ensure that they do make better choices, according to the state Web site. PBS views inappropriate behavior in the same manner that problems in reading or math are viewed as a skill deficit. When a skill deficit exists, officials must teach the appropriate skill.
“By doing so, a unified and positive school climate forms informing students and staff that appropriate behavior is a priority in school,” reads the site.
Middle school assistant principal Wanda Parrish said PBS takes a different approach. Hopefully, student in trouble for behavior will want to change their ways to receive what behaved students garner.
“They will see students rewarded and want to get into step and get what they got,” said Parrish whose school, like the elementary school, will issue “bucks,” but SCMS’s will be “Gamecock Bucks.” “With PBS, we hope to identify why the students are acting the way they are acting.”
Students engage in inappropriate behavior to obtain something they want like attention and getting out of an assignment, thus it serves a purpose for them. PBS uses the function of the inappropriate behavior to identify consequence and avoid rewarding the misbehavior.
“The ultimate goal is reduce the number of office referrals, and have the students spend more time doing what they are supposed to do,” Parrish said. “I’m excited about it. I think the good kids can get something for being good.”
Among the rewards for the SCMS students will be discounts to the school store, pencils, folders, pens, drink tea at lunch and receive homeroom passes and T-shirt day passes. They also could be an office helper for the day.
“These kids are social beings. They like to eat lunch with a friend, attend free basketball and football games, and get free admission to school dances,” Parrish said.
The middle school also plans to reward its teachers as well with bonuses like 30 minutes away from the classroom and “administrator for a day.”
“Teachers like getting free stuff too. I think they would appreciate it too,” said Parrish, who added that the program will evolve over the year and is expected to be updated for the 2010-2011 year. “I’m sure it won’t look exactly the same next year as it does this year.
“We can compare the numbers from this year. It will show us a lot of things,” she said.
The more time students are focused on learning than being disruptions translates into more individual and school-wide success. The middle school and the elementary school have met AYP standards for six consecutive years.
“With AYP, the higher you raise the bar the higher you have to achieve the next year,” Parrish said.