Students at Lincoln Middle School settled into day two of classes Wednesday with an afternoon lesson in good behavior.
Touring the school, students learned how to act in hallways, on the playground and on the bus.
The day gives educators a chance to be upfront about school rules and etiquette. In addition to improving safety and making sure students understand expectations, station-by-station training helps students get settled, educators said.
“It empowers them,” said Rick Blasing, Lincoln school counselor. “You’ve got to see it to believe it.”
Loading a group of more than 40 middle school students onto a bus, eighth-grade history teacher Terri Johnson covered the basics for a safe ride.
Respect personal space. Stay seated. Line up before getting on the bus.
“I think that you want to be organized so you can get on the bus with ease and safely,” Johnson said.
Each environment in Lincoln has its own set of rules. Teachers set expectations early by explaining those rules and how they vary from the classroom to the cafeteria, said Eric Check, Lincoln’s dean of students.
“We’ve made a commitment to do this right away at the beginning of the year,” Check said.
Lincoln started the behavior training day last year, following Wisconsin’s push to give K-12 teachers a framework for disciplining students. The state’s framework is called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.
Regional education support centers teamed up with the Department of Public Instruction in 2010 to begin rolling out PBIS guidelines. The program has four goals, according to the Wisconsin PBIS Network: Improve school culture, academics and safety while reducing problem behavior.
For Isaac List, 14, it’s about getting comfortable. The Lincoln eighth-grader tried to show his little brother the ropes for starting sixth grade, but “he didn’t listen to me,” List said.
Thankfully, teachers give students more than just a heads up on how to behave, List said.
“It kind of shows you around the school,” List said. “You’re not sitting in class all day wondering, ‘I don’t know where the bathroom is.’”
List went through the training last year, but the refresher still helped, he said.
Students learn useful information such as where buses pick them up after school, where to go after lunch and recess and how to find their class.
Throughout the school year, Lincoln educators will reward students for kindness and for following the rules, Blasing said.
“It doesn’t end with today’s activities,” Blasing said.