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Randy Sprick's Safe & Civil Schools Newsletter

August 2007

Preparing for the First Day     «»     Highlights from SCS     «»     Upcoming Events


Preparing for the First Day of the School Year

When you teach students how to behave responsibly during the first month of school, you dramatically increase their chances of having a productive year.

Over the summer, you have been developing or refining your vision and organization, and clarifying your expectations for student behavior in your classroom. Now, it is important to focus on implementing all of that creative work as you make your final preparations for the school year. If you don't get students on board from the beginning, it can be very difficult to change any negative behavior patterns as the year progresses.

The first step in finalizing your preparations for the beginning of school should be to complete these important tasks:

  • Develop and post your Guidelines for Success (Module 1, Task 2)
  • Ensure that you hold positive expectations for all students (Module 1, Task 3)
  • Identify your level of classroom structure (Module 1, Task 7)
  • Draw up your daily schedule (Module 2, Task 1)
  • Arrange your physical space (Module 2, Task 2)
  • Create or review your attention signal (Module 2, Task 3)
  • Prepare beginning and ending routines (Module 2, Task 4)
  • Identify and post your classroom rules (Module 2, Task 5)
  • Put together procedures for managing student work (Module 2, Task 6)
  • Create a Classroom Management Plan (CMP) (Module 2, Task 7)
  • Prepare or review lessons on your behavioral expectations (Module 3, Tasks 1-3)

Note: The parenthesized notes in the above list refer to the specific chapters in CHAMPs: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management where you can find more detailed information.

In addition, you will want to:

  • Develop a modified class schedule for the first day of school to ensure the inclusion of tasks and activities unique to that day.
  • Create a large, clear sign with your name, your grade level or subject, and the room number and post it in the hallway or on your classroom door to help students find you easily.
  • Prepare an initial activity for students to work on when they enter your room—something reasonably short and somewhat open-ended that does not require assistance from you.
  • Prepare a plan for dealing with families who want to take your time on the first day. For instance, you might write a brief note and give it out as families arrive. Emphasize your desire to spend your time on the first day of school helping your students feel comfortable in your classroom and include information about how and when they can reach you after the first day of school is over.

When the first day of school arrives, your goal will be to manage it in a manner that will make students feel welcome and will help them learn to behave responsibly from the beginning. The following strategies can help you do this.

  • Write your "Day One Schedule" on the board, an overhead transparency, or flip chart to give students a sense of what their day will be like.
  • Greet students individually as they enter your room and get them started on the initial activity discussed above.
  • Get students' attention as soon as the bell rings and introduce them to your attention signal. Explain how you expect them to behave when you use it.
  • Communicate essential classroom information in the first ten minutes.
  • Explain the activities listed on the Day One Schedule and what your behavioral expectations are for each activity using this three-step cycle: (1) teach your expectations, (2) monitor student behavior, and (3) give students clear feedback (both positive and corrective) on their implementation of your expectations.
  • Conclude the day or class period by orienting students to your ending routines.

These strategies will help you get your first day of school off to the best start. Remember, the information you present and the atmosphere you establish on "Day One" will yield valuable dividends throughout the school year.

Excerpt from CHAMPs: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management.


Highlights from Safe & Civil Schools

Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award

The Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas (KU-CRL) studies problems in education and develops solutions that put research-validated tools and strategies in the hands of teachers and students to increase academic motivation and achievement. The Center often partners with outside educators and researchers who strive to meet the same goals.

Each year, the Center gives the Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award to an outstanding professional— a person who has generously shared expertise and time with members of the Center in the attempt to achieve their mutual goals. This year, they chose Randy Sprick.

Randy's association with the Center began with its Pathways to Success project. During the implementation of the project, instructional coaches found that teachers who struggled to motivate students to achieve academically also struggled with classroom management issues. The need to address this issue triggered the partnership between Randy and the KU-CRL.

It has been a successful collaboration.

According to Jim Knight, director of the Pathways project, "Randy does what it takes to help us. He goes out of his way to share ideas with us, to meet with us . . . He really makes us feel like he's learning from us, too. I don't know if he's just a masterful communicator or if we're contributing, but he makes us feel like we're respected by him. He's just a real pleasure to work with!"

The collaboration between Randy Sprick and the CRL has complemented the effective practices of the Center's Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) and raised their professional development work to a new level. According to Tricia McKale, an instructional coach with Pathways, "The work Randy and the Center have done has made professional development something to look forward to."

Report on the 11th Annual Train the Trainer Workshop

We recently concluded our annual Train the Trainer workshop at the Benson Hotel in Portland and we thought you might be interested in a report.

This year, 278 educators participated and graciously shared their stories and experiences. That's an increase of 43% over last year's attendance of 194!

Participants came from 19 states:  California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New York , Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

The folks who attended represent a wide range of educational positions:  teacher, assistant principal, principal, LRE specialist, director of guidance, counselor, Title IV coordinator, middle school director, ESE specialist, school psychologist, social worker, director of high schools, director of elementary schools, coordinator of child welfare and attendance, behavior specialist, special education director/coordinator, professional development coordinator, director of curricula, area director, area superintendent, and assistant superintendent — to name a few.

Participants attended a variety of workshops, ranging in topic from CHAMPs and Foundations to Behavioral Interventions: An RTI Approach. There were four new workshops this year, and three new hour-long bonus sessions, one of which was a presentation on the Tough Kid series and how it aligns with Safe & Civil Schools to create a complete program for a school's behavior, safety, and social needs.

We received great feedback from participants. Thanks to you all for taking the time to help us improve our services! We thought we'd share a few comments. . .

"Thank you so much. I go forth, again, with genuine hope that schools can do great things for children."  —Amy Godsey, Behavior Specialist

"I am excited about sharing this information with my colleagues and working with them to implement the program."  —Tobey Shaw, Principal

"Safe & Civil Schools programs help to consolidate a lot of ideas into a working format."  —Ron Coleman, Assistant Principal

"Great Food!!"   (a comment received from many people)



Thought you'd like to know...

Safe & Civil Schools is growing—thanks to you!

This year we scheduled 607 consulting days. That's 45 more days than last year, 118 more days than in 2005 and 301 more days than 2004. In fact, at the end of July 2007, we are already 36 days over the year-end total of 2004!




New Training in CHAMPs — We are pleased to offer another opportunity for educators to attend a CHAMPs Train the Trainer Workshop. In this three-day session, you will learn how to train fellow staff to work on essential classroom competencies using techniques described in CHAMPs (K-8) and Discipline in the Secondary Classroom (9-12). Tricia McKale, M.S. will conduct this training, which is scheduled for November 6–8, 2007 at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Find out more on our website.


11th Annual Train the Trainer Workshop — Thanks to all who participated in our annual Train the Trainer workshop! We are sorry if we had to turn any of you away and hope to see you next year in our larger facility!

Speaking of next year — we are changing the name of our conference and its venue! In 2008 when you come to Portland, you will be attending the Safe & Civil Schools National Conference at the Hilton Portland. As always, we will be offering new classes, so watch our website for updates. Please remember to sign up early—registration is limited!


Tough Kid Presentation — Thanks to Bill Jenson, Ginger Rhode, and Julie Bowen for their overview of the Tough Kid series at this year's Train the Trainer workshop.

Participants listened attentively as Bill, Ginger, and Julie described their work, including an upcoming revision of the Tough Kid Book and the new Tough Kid Bully Blocker, to be published by Pacific Northwest Publishing.

And, they'll be back! Bill, Ginger, and Julie will join us again next year at the Hilton for our National Conference. Don't miss their presentation!


Safe & Civil Schools Exhibits — Come visit us at these annual conventions this year:

  • NASP – February 6-9, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • NASSP – February 22-24, San Antonio, Texas
  • ASCD – March 15-17, New Orleans, Louisiana

Please stop by our booth and let us know how we can help you improve your school climate!


Ed in '08 Campaign — You may have noticed that next year is an election year. We think that this a perfect opportunity to encourage public dialogue on the state of the nation's schools and what can be done to improve on it.

And, we are not alone.

Strong American Schools, a nonpartisan public awareness and action coalition, wants to generate a "serious nationwide debate on education reform." The goal is to make education a primary issue in the presidential race.

Strong American Schools is a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers and is partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. You can read more about them on their website.

We encourage you to visit their site and participate in the campaign. Make Education count in 2008!


Upcoming Events — Randy Sprick and Safe & Civil Schools associates continue to provide presentations across the country. Some of these include open registration. Registration may be limited and/or may involve a fee. Contact information is provided for each on our website.


As fall approaches, the staff at Safe & Civil Schools wish you a productive and positive school year!

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© 2007 Safe & Civil Schools. All rights reserved.