In Spring of 2019, I took the course SPED 430, Positive Behavior Strategies, with Dr Jeremy Lynch at Slippery Rock University.
This fall, some of his students from that class were invited to participate in an outside project.
Several of us traveled to Reynolds Elementary School in Greenville, PA to meet with Mrs Michele Morneweck, 6th grade teacher, and the leader of the PBIS implementation at Reynolds Elementary. We toured the school in early September and got an idea of where the school is in the process of launching a second year using PBIS frameworks. We were asked if we could do anything to brighten up their school-wide bulletin boards, using PBIS ideas and the “Reynolds Rock the 3 Rs – Ready, Respect, and Responsible” theme.
Working with a classmate from spring semester, I helped design and assemble two boards found in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade hallways.
Along the hall where every 4th, 5th, and 6th grader traveled multiple times per day, these apple declarations seemed dated and not at all engaging for middle level students.
After some discussion, my partner Jackie and I decided to lean in to the idea of the three Rs, but to make them more relatable to middle grade students. Students in this age group are starting to develop a more sophisticated sense of self, and need positive role models not only at home and in school, but in the media. Jackie and I decided on several of these folks, being sure to include celebrities they would already know and love, like Taylor Swift, and celebrities from a wide range of ages, genders, occupations, and races, like Steven Curry, Michelle Obama, Simone Biles, and Ellen Degeneres, and included quotes from these individuals that reflect the ideas of respect, being ready, and responsibility.
With a new background, a little twine, tiny clothespins, and some card stock, we certainly lit up this bulletin board, taking a classic idea, celebrities, and making it our own.
Our second board was located in what would have been a lobby or entrance before schools were limited to one central entrance, this 3 panel bulletin board had a rather bland and incohesive presentation – distracting, busy, and at best, done (in the sense that it wasn’t empty or blank).
Jackie and I decided to go even more modern on this board, since it is in a passing hallway. Yes, every 4-6th grader passes through this area every day, and multiple times per day, but they do not linger here like they do in the other hallway while waiting for specials, waiting to switch classes, or waiting for other passing classes. This board is meant to convey something quick, something memorable, and relate back to positive behavior frameworks.
The “woah” is a popular meme dance move that incorporates a freeze into a gesture using fists, one on top of the other. Often, the “woah” is “passed” back and forth between students, who then have to catch it, hit it, dance to it, pass it on, or ignore it (as I understand, ignoring and/or dropping the “woah” is akin to sacrilege).
So we ran with it. We used large, easy to read letters that stood out, boldly reminding students that they have a chance to “woah” someone every day with the 3 Rs. Our examples included quick check in questions like “Have you WOAH’d a teacher by being READY for class?” and “Are you RESPECTFUL of everyone?” and “Are you RESPONSIBLE” for yourself and your belongings?”.