Does a Checklist Really Work? {Behavior Mgmt.}

Does a Checklist Really Work? {Behavior Mgmt.}

I am on a quest to figure out how checklists can simplify and improve the quality of our work in schools.  If you haven’t read my first two installments of this little series, I suggest you do (they’re super quick reads!).  Here’s the 1st.  Here’s the 2nd.

This time I tried my hand at behavior management.  How do we define a series of steps so that we can ensure that behavior management doesn’t dominate instruction?  Also, how do we streamline it across a school so we have similar expectations for kids?  I tried my hand at it here…what do you think?

Checklist for In-Class Behavior Management

1

When a student is misbehaving, kindly ask student to replace with an alternate behavior (“Instead of _____, John, I would like you to do _____.”)

2

If behavior is not immediately corrected, then firmly ask the student to change behavior and add consequence (“John, I have asked you to _____ and you have chosen not to.  I would like you to ____ right now.  I do not want to have to ask you to leave the group!”)

3

If the behavior is changed and no longer an issue, find an immediate way to compliment the student on the changed behavior (“John…thanks so much for doing _____ -really nice job paying close attention.”)

4

If the behavior persists, quietly go over to the student, whisper directions to carry out consequence (Whispering: “John, please come and sit in this desk right now – I will let you know when you are free to join us again.”).  Ignore the student if he acts out or tries to get other kids’ attention

5

Tell the student that he is still responsible for doing the work, just doing the work in a different spot in the room

6

If the student is not behaving in the new spot, give 1-2 calm reminders of what is expected (“Remember John, I’m looking for you to not blurt out and try to distract everyone.  When you can do that, I’ll invite you back to the group, which is my #1 goal.”)

7

If the student is still not responding, then calmly move the student to the next step on the behavior chart (losing recess?)

8

If the student gets to the 4th step on the behavior chart, a note goes home with the student and the note comes to the principal’s office

9

Every new day is a fresh start for every student – we allow students to recover
Does a Checklist Really Work? {Talking with Parents}

Does a Checklist Really Work? {Talking with Parents}

I have been really obsessed with the book “The Checklist Manifesto.”  To say it’s changed my life would be a little wild, but it has definitely changed my perspective.  A lot.

One of the things that I learned about the power of checklists is that is helps us manage the cognitive load of all teachers have to handle in a day/week/month/year.  I mean, we don’t need anyone to tell us that we just have TOO MUCH TO DEAL WITH.

Things gets lost in the shuffle – we forget things that we would ordinarily remember.  We are running around like crazy.  More is definitely not more!

Checklists help us deliver the important stuff reliably across time – I think a series of simple checklists might really be able to help us manage all that we have to do.

As I was writing a new presentation I’m giving on a webinar in few weeks, I really though about what a checklist would look like in real school life, so I’d like to share some ideas with you and see what you think!  I have three to share…here is the first:

Working with/Talking with a Parent

1

Prior to call, pull any data, notes or information you need to reference

2

Greet the parent and tell them how happy you are to talk in person/by phone

3

Confirm the purpose of the call and let the parent know the amount of time you have for the call

4

Encourage parent to share concern/information related to the purpose of the call

5

Summarize what you hear the parent saying, “So, I want to make sure I understand what you’re sharing with me…”

6

Propose 1-2 solutions to the concern or propose 1-2 next steps and have the parent choose which he feels is the best

7

Confirm with the parent when these solution/next step will take place

8

Compliment the parent for taking time to work with you – end on a positive
Why Teachers Drop a Skill After Coaching

Why Teachers Drop a Skill After Coaching

A very common question that I get from coaches is this: What do I do when a teacher has been coached in a skill and yet when I get back into the classroom, they’ve dropped or stopped using the skill?

I think that sometimes coaches take this personally – after all, everyone has put a lot of time in effort in coaching and learning a new/updated skill!  But, I find that when I ask myself these three questions, I can usually get to the root of why that’s happened…and, more importantly, I can fix it with the teacher:

  1. Did I break the steps of the skill down to the –nth degree or was the skills we were working on really like five skills rolled up into one?
  2. Did the teacher understand what I wanted him to do? (And a nod of the head isn’t a confirmation…the teacher should be able to fully explain what you want him to do in his own words – make sure to weave this into your debriefing each time!)
  3. Did the teacher simply forget to keep doing it and do we need to add some sort of note on his desk or in his lesson plan book so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle any longer? (Teachers have lots to remember and can simply forget. It happens to all of us!)

The most important thing is to avoid going straight to the line of the thinking that the teacher is stopping the practice on purpose.  By digging just a bit deeper through the questions, you’ll find an even more efficient way to work with a teacher…and it doesn’t have to affect your relationship one bit!

 

 

3 “Get Back On Track” Questions for Principals (and an example)

I suffer from good-idea-itis.  I have trouble sorting out the good ideas from the good ideas that are right for my organization.  Can you relate?  When we work with schools, we see a bunch of hugely motivated people often working on the wrong thing.  Or at least the wrong thing for them.  I find that this is a great time to stop and take stock so we don’t spin our wheels all year long and wonder how on earth it happened!

Here are my most helpful “taking stock” questions:

Question 1:  What are you willing to “go big” on?

What is it that is so important, instructionally, that if every teacher improved it just a little bit would make a huge impact on student achievement?

 

Question 2:  What will you have to do to “go big” on that thing?

  • What will the people need to do?
  • What will you need to do?
  • What will your leadership team have to do?
  • How will teacher teams need to work on this?
  • What materials do you have to get this done?

 

Question 3: What good ideas will you have to leave behind?

Good ideas WILL need to be left on the table to make room for the really great, important ones.  What are good ideas that you don’t want to give up, but need to, so that you can move forward on the excellent stuff?

_________________________

Here’s an example of what that might look like in real life!

 

Question 1:  What are you willing to “go big” on?

We are willing to go big on using instructional aides to teach important skills to the most struggling students during language arts instruction for 40 minutes daily instead of pulling students out to work outside of the classroom teacher’s control.

Question 2:  What will you have to do to “go big” on that thing?

  • We will have to look at the data to determine which grades need the most instructional time with aides right now
  • We will have to adjust schedules in all grade levels
  • We will have to stop using aides to cover classes or duties as needed – will need a permanent solutions to how they “fill in”
  • We will have to find co-planning time with aides and classroom teachers
  • We will have to train instructional aides on very specific techniques for intervening on the foundational skills with the lowest performers
  • We will have to design routines for the aide entering the classroom and getting kids to the right spot so we don’t lose instructional time
  • We will plan to reassess this plan every six weeks and make adjustments

Question 3: What good ideas will you have to leave behind?

  • That our new program will solve every problem we currently have in bringing kids to benchmark in LA
  • That lowering class size/group size is our #1 priority and will make the biggest difference
  • That centers are the answer to grouping kids and providing targeted instruction
  • That by isolating students outside of the classroom in small groups makes them focus even more than if they were peeled off within the classroom
Sample Script from a Teacher Debriefing

Sample Script from a Teacher Debriefing

Teacher Debriefing Script_3-21-16

I find that lots of coaches and principals hit the wall when it comes to debriefing teachers.  They struggle to know how to get into it without it seeming evaluative and overall really weird or awkward feeling.  In the end, coaching a teacher and doing a debriefing (whether you’re a leader or a coach) IS evaluative.  It’s evaluating how efficient and effective the teaching is. When we say “Oh, this is not evaluative,” we’re not totally telling hte truth.

Where we get into trouble with unions, resistant teachers and generally freaked out educators is when we don’t make it clear to people that what we do during the lesson debriefing won’t necessarily end up on their FORMAL evaluation.  There is no way to successfully coach without evaluating how the teaching went.

I have seen that when we can deconstruct the debriefing process with teachers and tell them WHAT it will look like, we find much less resistance.  With less resistance, we can get down and dirty into conversations about how to improve the impact that our teaching has.  And THAT is an on-going conversation that is worth having with every teacher!

In an effort to deconstruct the debriefing, I wanted to share with you a script that I recently used.  I show you each part of the debriefing and label it for you.  I hope that you’ll use it as a script for your future debriefings.  I have found that it is basically fool-proof.  The structure of the script is a sure-thing.

Click here to download the debriefing script and check it out!

Pin It on Pinterest