Good cards foster good behavior at Longley

LEWISTON — Before exploring Asian countries online, 6th-grade teacher Sara Hogate asked her class: How many good cards did they get that Wednesday?

Longley teachers
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Longley Elementary School 6th-grade teacher Sara Hogate gives instructions to her students during a recent class in Lewiston. Hogate went over the number of "good cards" students earned for doing something right.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Longley Elementary School 4th-graders Ariana Vincent, left, and Farhiya Abdi go through the lunch line Thursday in Lewiston. Rules posted on the wall behind the serving line encourage good behavior.

Longley teachers
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Longley Elementary School 6th-grade teacher Sara Hogate helps Khadijo Tawane with looking up something on her laptop during class Wednesday morning at the Lewiston School.

Second in a series

Some new teachers, some new ideas

Editor's note: Last year, Longley Elementary School was identified as one of 10 Maine schools with such persistent low test scores that it qualified for $2 million in federal money to help boost learning. But to get the money to give students more help, half the faculty had to go. This is the second story in an occasional series about changes at Longley.

Sixteen, her Longley Elementary School students answered.

“Who remembers how many we got the day before?” The answer was 19. “So we went down a bit. I want to get it back up. Yusuf, it's your turn to write the chart.”

The boy went to the board and updated the chart. Hogate passed out good cards.

Ali got one for working quietly, Mohamed for helping to clean. “Ben and Yusuf also got good cards for helping clean,” Hogate said. Mohamed, Kyle, Hussein and Joey got cards for helping or being quiet after lunch.

As the teacher talked, noise from students talking got louder. “Why do I hear people talking when I'm talking?” she asked. “That's not respectful.” The noise subsided.

As part of the first year of a major school improvement plan at Longley, “good cards” and a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program are new ways students are taught and encouraged to behave, allowing more time for learning.

All Lewiston schools this year have adopted the program and three student rules: “safe, respectable and responsible,” said Longley Principal Linda St. Andre. How the rules play out differ from school to school.

At Longley, rules are posted in classes, the cafeteria, the playground, even the water fountain.

When students follow the rules, “they get a good card,” said Hogate, 26, a recent University of Maine graduate. Students get prizes, a cupcake, gum, pencils or erasers for getting good cards. The behavior is discussed in class. When the daily count goes down, “we talk about what we can work on as a class,” Hogate said.

Each week every homeroom teacher holds a raffle drawing one good card. The winning student is sent to the principal's office for a treat and praise. “I talk to them about what they did to get a good card,” St. Andre said. “I thank them for being good Longley lions and encourage them to continue to make good choices.”

There are no cards for bad behavior but there are consequences, like losing recess, Hogate said. When that happens students meet with the teacher to talk about it. The goal is to respectfully correct and empower the student.

Longley has lists that spell out safe, responsible and respectable actions for different settings. At the water fountain, posted rules say: “Form a line. One at a time. Take a drink. Count to three.”

In the cafeteria lunch line, rules include: take turns, wait patiently, say please and thank you, follow cleanup directions, keep voices quiet. “It's all worded in the positive,” St. Andre said.

A group of third-graders eating lunch was asked to give examples of cafeteria rules. A half dozen eager hands shot up. “To use your manners,”  Abdikani said. “To follow cleanup,” Miski said. “If you see a paper on the floor you pick it up.”

The federal improvement school program provides Longley with a behavioral specialist for 10 hours a week. That specialist gives group presentations to teachers and follows up with individual teachers in classrooms.

Overall, the program recommends five good cards be given for every one discipline referral. “When you reward kids for doing what you taught them, they'll continue to do it. Others will see it,” St. Andre said.

So far, students are responding, she said. About 80 percent of students are doing well, 20 percent need some intervention. “In that 20 percent some kids are written up once. A very small percentage are repeatedly written up.” Those students receive extra attention, she said.

Teaching students what behavior is expected, then praising them for doing it, means classrooms run smoothly and less instruction is interrupted, St. Andre said. “We can get on with the business of academics.”

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

It is good to hear that the positive

is working at Longley. I do hope that all children get praised for making good choices. I agree that sometimes the kids who have good behavior all the time get overlooked on the praise and that stinks for them. I have personally witnessed the "naughty" kids getting more kudos and rewards than the well-behaved kids due to behavior plans, etc. It would be great to see the typical/average kids get more of that positive stroking and it sounds like Longley is doing just that. I think the children at Longley with thrive with this kind of program in place.

 's picture

It is good to hear that the positive

is working at Longley. I do hope that all children get praised for making good choices. I agree that sometimes the kids who have good behavior all the time get overlooked on the praise and that stinks for them. I have personally witnessed the "naughty" kids getting more kudos and rewards than the well-behaved kids due to behavior plans, etc. It would be great to see the typical/average kids get more of that positive stroking and it sounds like Longley is doing just that. I think the children at Longley with thrive with this kind of program in place.

 's picture

Thumbs up

Great program.. schools need to do more to award good behavior. It creates a new incentive and lets exemplar students know how appreciated they really are by their teachers, something that can sometimes be overshadowed when a teacher spends so much time dealing with the troublemakers.

The two stories in this series are spectacular so far, but when it comes to Lewiston's schools, especially Longley, it'd be especially interesting if the Sun Journal took a close look at the roots of the challenges that exist. It's frustrating, because I know there is a lot of praise deserved in our schools, but the SJ has never taken a critical look into the Somali population and the societal clashes of how they raise their children vs. the typical way an American child is raised and how THAT presents challenges in our schools. In our press we see nothing but positive stories about the Somali community, while among our citizens the response is mostly negative, and there is resent or dismissal whenever the SJ gives us those positive stories because that's all we see. Why not dig deep and do something more than just a puff piece (even if it IS well deserved)?

I realize I got a bit off topic, but I feel so strongly about this.

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