Monday, December 14, 2009

VT: Compliments Abound at Wheeler School in VT

December 6, 2009

By Molly Walsh


Teachers at Wheeler are finding that by making more of a fuss over children who do the right thing, the number of children who do the wrong thing has dramatically declined. The school is among 54 in Vermont that have implemented an approach to discipline known as the positive behavioral support (PBS) model. Beneath that jargonish moniker lies a simple premise - set the rules, teach them and lavish praise on kids when they follow them.

After the program was instituted at Wheeler last year, suspensions dropped by more than half, from 74 days to 21 days. Less serious discipline problems are also way down. In the 2007-2008 school year, children were required to leave the classroom for misbehavior 600 times at the school, compared to 198 times last year.

These numbers illustrate a dramatic turn-around, said Jim Drown, a behavior specialist at Wheeler who vividly remembers how frantic his early days were at the school ten years ago. “There was no expectation on behavior. There were kids literally running out the doors,” he said. Drown struggled to help teachers maintain order. “It was just run from one room to the next, put out one fire after another and not be able to do anything.”

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