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Valley View Teachers Make Positive Change Through Teamwork

posted Sep 12, 2014, 1:05 PM by VVESPTA Admin   [ updated Sep 12, 2014, 1:07 PM ]
The 2014-15 school year is off to a good start at Valley View Elementary and in large part it is due to teamwork from our teachers. There have been some positive changes at the school focused around creating behaviors that make the environment safer for students.

The impetus for the changes began last year from student members of the 5th Grade Student Leadership run by 5th Grade Teachers, Mrs. Jessica Dehl and Mrs. Esperanza Jimenez. Mrs. Jimenez shared, “In Leadership, we often ask our students what topics they want to address at the school. A few students brought up the topic of unclear rules on the playground and hallway, and by April, the entire group was in agreement that something needed to be done. Jessica and I decided to take action to learn our colleagues perceptions as well.”

In May 2014, Mrs. Dehl and Mrs. Jimenez took the safety concerns to a teacher staff meeting and there was unanimous consent that there was a problem. Teachers agreed that while each teacher managed their classrooms with specific rules of behavior -- there was inconsistent messaging and adherence to rules outside of the classroom (lunch, recess, and assemblies). Dehl and Jimenez then realized as facilitators of Student Leadership, they had to do something to improve the safety for all Valley View students. Given how time is such a precious resource for our teachers these days, they made the difficult, but commendable choice to spearhead an effort to make safety changes at Valley View.

Mrs. Dehl and Mrs. Jimenez then met with Principal Rafael Cruz and got permission to create an interest committee to learn if teachers would be interested in teaming together to solve the problems they identified at the previous staff meeting. The newly formed interest committee uncovered quite a bit of interest - over 85% of teachers wanted to participate outside of school hours in creating solutions to these challenges. “We were thrilled by the passion that we saw from our colleagues and from that point on, we knew we were going to come up with the best possible solutions because we were seeing true collaboration where all input was honored and all ideas welcomed,” said Mrs. Dehl.

The teachers then formed an eight-person committee that met over the summer and solicited teacher input via email to make sure that all teachers were in agreement about next steps and implementation at the start of the new school year.

The new recess and lunch rules at Valley View are a combination of Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD), which focuses on language, and behaviors of respect for different cultures and approaches and Positive Discipline Behavior Intervention System (PDBIS), which focuses on Positive Discipline – so rather than telling students what not to do, the PDBIS approach focuses on the preferred behaviors – such as respecting property, others, and ourselves. GLAD is currently used in the Pleasanton Unified School District and many Valley View teachers have been trained in the GLAD methodology. Mrs. Dehl taught elementary school in Oregon at a district where PDBIS was widely applied. The combination of the two modalities helped Valley View teachers weave together an actionable behavior plan that would enhance safety for the students and staff.

The rollout of the new rules started well before school started on August 26th. The committee created a Behavior Matrix Tool for teachers to use for the new school year to ensure consistency. Valley View teachers were busy including the new behavior and safety rules into Back-to-School Presentations, Handouts, and Bulletin Boards. The teachers also model the new behaviors and use positive reinforcement to help guide students. For example, teachers sat with their own classes at lunch the first week to demonstrate the new procedures and use the “Caught You” reward system when students are “caught” using the preferred behaviors.

Mrs. Dehl and Mrs. Jimenez said that the feedback from the students has been the most rewarding. Second Grader, Wyatt Putman when asked about his feelings on the new rules said, “Pausing when the recess bell rings before we go back into the classroom is cool because even with all those kids – we can be quiet on the playground.” Most parents have probably noticed the new rules coming home in backpacks written out on sheets of paper, construction paper-hats, and wide variety of formats the first week of school. Parents also are onboard, 3rd Grade Teacher, Mrs. Felicia Douwes, said that parents were “very supportive” when she announced the changes at her Back-To-School Night presentation. Mr. Muniz announced the new behavior and safety rules at a well-attended PTA Association Meeting on September 3rd and there were many heads nodding in agreement in the audience. Mr. Muniz stated that he is taking steps to share Valley View’s new safety rules with his other elementary school, Walnut Grove. When asked about the changes Mr. Muniz said, “The teachers at Valley View have created best practices that were identified through collaboration, which is the best way to create positive change for students and staff.”

To follow is a high-level overview of the new rules and a partial list of the benefits to both students and staff.

Rule Benefit

Make Good Decisions
  • Teach students to follow directions
  • Play by the rules
  • Be on time for school and assemblies
  • Face forward in lines
  • Wash hands
  • Use only what you need
  • Use quiet voices in hallways

Show Respect
  • Teach students to clean up after yourself
  • Use good table manners
  • Walk quietly
  • Treat property with care
  • Be an active learner
  • Share & return equipment
Solve Problems
  • Teach students to speak kind to others and stand up for themselves in a courteous way
  • Welcome anyone to your games
No Running in Hallways
  •  Student and staff safety
Stop. Pause. Recess Bells
  • Safety and mindfulness
  • Reduces time for teachers to get students focused on classroom instruction
Eat Lunch With Your Class
  • Promotes family values of eating together and socialization with new students
  • Eliminates students from eating alone and feeling left out
  • Student safety
Lunch Dismissal
  • Safety
  • Allows lunch/yard staff to quickly transition to yard duty
  • Accountability for teachers to assemble their class in the case of an emergency or address behavior issues
  • Ensures that students are not out in the recess yard without supervision
  • Respecting property by cleaning up after themselves
  • Trackers are used as a written reminder when students break a school rule
  • The teacher who gives a tracker reteaches the behavior, then asks the student to reflect in writing
  • Parents are also asked to sign

Principal Cruz said he is “proud of the teachers and the new rules." He added, “Thank you to our remarkable teachers at Valley View for taking the extra time and effort to make our school even greater.”