Randy Sprick's Safe & Civil Schools – Practical Solutions, Positive Results!

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Spring 2011

Supervise and Achieve!

By Randy Sprick

With spring here, bring your students gently back by re-teaching your expectations (especially those that seem to have fallen by the wayside) and by increasing your supervision (schoolwide and in the classroom).

Re-teach Expectations

Consider using the CHAMPS versus Daily Reality Rating Scale. This tool allows you to look at each major activity and transition during your day and evaluate (on a five-point scale) how well students meet your CHAMPS expectations for that activity or transition. With the information you collect, decide whether you need to re-teach your CHAMPS expectations or modify the level of structure you have selected as most appropriate for your students (or both).

Immediately after the class completes an activity or transition, rate the degree to which students met your expectations (see page 250 in CHAMPS). Review the data you collect and determine which activities or transitions require re-teaching of expectations. As you interpret your data, keep in mind these points:

Circulate and Scan

The importance of observing students by circulating and scanning was identified in the very early research on how effective teachers manage the classroom. By circulating throughout the room and using visual and auditory scanning, you can stay in touch with all parts of the classroom. As you circulate, look, and listen, mentally pay attention to the information your eyes and ears are collecting.

Keep in mind that you are not just observing for problems, but also for opportunities to give the class and individuals positive feedback. When you scan early in an independent work period and notice a student working hard--someone who in the past has tended to get off task--go to that student immediately and provide a positive interaction, such as descriptive praise, in a manner that will not embarrass the student. In other words, scan for problems, but also scan for opportunities to provide meaningful positive feedback.

You can also tie your observances to your expectations. For example, if you've just re-taught students your expectations for conversation in small group work, and you observe Johnny speaking in the correct tone of voice, it's time for positive feedback. In other words, use what you observe to give students positive and corrective feedback before the next time the activity or transition comes up.


Whenever possible, circulate throughout the classroom in unpredictable patterns. Do not spend the majority of your time in any one part of the room, and avoid a walking pattern that may let students know that you will not be near them for a significant amount of time. This is especially important during independent work periods and cooperative group activities. Your proximity communicates your concern for and interest in the students. It also communicates that if someone chooses to engage in misbehavior, you will likely notice it.

Obviously, there are times when circulating is difficult--for instance, when you are teaching a small group or presenting to the class using an overhead or digital visual presenter. However, whenever you can, try to move about the room.

Remember, as you circulate, give positive feedback to students who are meeting your expectations, answer any questions students may have, and provide gentle reprimands or consequences to students who are not meeting expectations. And always try to avoid staying too long in any one place.

Visual Scanning

Regardless of what you and the students are doing, you should have a clear line of sight to all students and visually scan all settings in the classroom. For example, when you are circulating, don't just look at the students nearest to you--visually sweep any place students are present, even a learning center across the room. When you are conducting a whole-class activity, visually scan the back rows and the front corners. When you are helping an individual student with her work, plan to occasionally stand up and look around the room. When you are teaching a small group, look up from the group periodically and observe students who are working at their seats.

As you scan, look for any misbehavior that requires correction. If a student is engaged in misbehavior, go to the student and issue a gentle reprimand or assign an appropriate consequence. Also look for opportunities to acknowledge and encourage responsible behavior.

Audio Scanning

In addition to looking to all parts of the classroom, you should listen to all parts of the classroom. Within your management plan there will emerge a baseline, or normal, level of background noise in your room. Whenever you notice a change in the baseline level of background noise, determine whether the change is a problem. The noise level may increase because students are very excited and engaged about the assigned cooperative task, and they may just need a gentle reminder to keep their conversations quiet enough so that the noise does not disturb the class next door. Or the noise level may suddenly decrease because students become aware of a conflict brewing between two students in the back of the room and stop what they are doing to see what is going to happen.

It's Not Over Yet!

So, hang in there! Re-teaching expectations and active supervision are tools you can use to keep your students productive and actively engaged in learning right up to the last day of school!

--Excerpts from CHAMPS: A Proactive & Positive Approach to Classroom Management, 2nd ed. Copyright 2011 by Pacific Northwest Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Results from the Field—Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a small community in south-central Wisconsin about 120 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Situated along the banks of the Wisconsin River, the city is surrounded by farms and forests.

The Wisconsin Dells School District serves approximately 1,700 students--83% White, 9% Native American, 6% Hispanic, and 2% Black. Eleven percent of students receive special education services and 41% qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.

Staff at Wisconsin Dells started a districtwide Safe & Civil Schools implementation last September with remarkable success, as the following chart indicates.


Staff Speaks

Wisconsin Dells High School

"Start on Time has been the most successful behavior change I have seen or implemented in my 22 years as a high school principal."
--Randy Kuhnau, Principal

"Our building has a very positive climate in the halls, with teachers outside of their classrooms."
--Megan Leaf, Counselor

"Start on Time has eliminated tardies as an issue."
--Marti Fults, Band Teacher

Spring Hill Middle School

"Hallway traffic and behavior have improved. It is becoming second nature for the kids."
--Jeff Campbell

Elementary Schools

"We have a systematic approach to supervising behavior. Everyone knows the rules, and staff are on the same page."
--Carol Coughlin, Principal, Spring Hill

"Student transitions have become much smoother in our building."
--Sheila Smith, Teacher, Lake Delton

"Hallway behavior is better, with smooth transitions between specials and lunch."
--Laura Theiler, Teacher, Spring Hill

On CHAMPS, here's Nichol Meinhardt, 6th & 7th grade science teacher at Spring Hill Middle:

CHAMPS plans are an amazingly effective way to structure a classroom activity and also transition from one activity to another. Having the CHAMPS words posted in my room allows the students to visually see and hear what is expected of them. I deliver all of my CHAMPS plans on my SmartBoard, which allows me to have multiple CHAMPS plans up at one time. These clear and explicit expectations help my classroom flow with only minor disruptions. It also helps that we are consistent with our CHAMPS plans throughout the middle school--expectations may vary from classroom to classroom, but the delivery is consistent and the students know exactly what is expected of them.

Thanks to students and staff in the Wisconsin Dells school district. We are as proud of your achievements as you are!