Setting A Good Example At A Young Age
Rewarding good behavior is something a lot of families do with their children, and it’s a principle that makes its way into our classrooms as well. Coming up with creative and instructive ways to teach good behavior is a core tenet in Mary J. Tanner Elementary School, and something the entire staff takes very seriously.
Every month, the school holds a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) assembly to highlight students who have gone above and beyond in the classroom, the cafeteria, and even on the bus to and from school.
“Our goal every day is to make our classrooms and hallways a safe, productive space for our children to learn and grow,” said Mary J. Tanner Elementary Principal Paul Morcone. “We don’t want to have our students feel intimidated or feel like they’re being forced to act a certain way. We want to reward them for doing the right things on a daily basis.”
The school has been incorporating PBIS into the classroom for the past five years. Morcone called the program an added support pillar to the social and emotional learning standards teachers had already been practicing. It’s also in line with the New York State Mental Health Framework that is implemented in each classroom.
“We’ve built an incredible support staff here at Mary J. Tanner, with our counseling team having a strong presence in each of our classrooms,” said Morcone. “PBIS allows us to intervene with a student before needing to make an office referral where a consequence needs to be introduced because of poor behavior. It empowers us to be proactive instead of reactive, and it’s led to fewer referrals since we started with PBIS.”
Students have the opportunity to be recognized for achievements in different areas of the school. The Golden Spatula goes to the class that best exemplifies cafeteria behavior for the month, students with perfect attendance get recognized, and the school also nominates a Bus of the Month award to the bus that carries the best behaved students.
There’s also the opportunity for every student to earn ‘Bee Bucks’ every day, which can either be used to collect a gadget from the school’s ‘Bee Store’ (Bee Cart) or as a chance to win lunch with Principal Morcone.
“We want everyone to feel involved in this process,” said Morcone. “Each student has the chance to earn something every month through their behavior.”
Morcone credits his entire school staff for being proactive when it comes to PBIS, and for making sure that every student at Mary J. Tanner Elementary has access to all the tools that will help them be successful.
“Our counselors are in classrooms each week. They’re hands-on with our students, and they’re identifying areas of growth. Every member of our faculty has done an incredible job of delivering our social and emotional learning curriculum in a way that allows our children to be part of the process every step of the way.”
While the students get to enjoy immediate benefits like the Bee Bucks for participating in the social and emotional learning curriculum, they’re also being prepared to be successful students beyond the elementary level.
“Building and developing good habits at a young age will carry over as these students age,” said Morcone. “They may not keep the little gadgets or remember the details of what we talk about at our lunches, but they will remember the lessons they learned at Mary J. Tanner. Knowing that makes me immensely proud of all our staff has accomplished.”