Oklahoma City Elementary School Makes Students Feel At Home with Great Expectations
Methodology provides classroom management skills to Nichols Hills Elementary principal
Kim Iraggi’s first year out of college as an educator was a challenging one. She performed well academically, but didn’t have the classroom management skills that she needed to be successful.
In the summer of 1994, after her first year as a teacher, she attended a Great Expectations methodology course. At the training, Iraggi learned the eight expectations and how to create a classroom environment that worked for her students, and ultimately encouraged her to continue her career in education.
“The methodology training gave me wonderful ideas about how to draw the students together as a team, how to set procedures, and how to have my classroom run smoothly,” said Iraggi. “I would not have stayed an educator if I did not learn these tactics from Great Expectations. It really saved me as a teacher.”
Iraggi vowed to take the Great Expectations methodology to every classroom and school where she taught. For five years she was a Great Expectations instructor and taught ‘Empowering Principals’ at the Summer Institute training this past year.
Straight From The Students
After being a second and third grade teacher for 16 years, Iraggi is now in her fifth year as principal at Nichols Hills Elementary School in Oklahoma City. The school is in its ninth year as a Model School, a recognition earned when over 90 percent of the teachers successfully implement all of the classroom practices on a daily basis.
In every decision and implementation, the elementary school refers back to their Great Expectations roots to determine their long-term expectations and goals. With very few discipline issues, students are required to be respectful and the school strives to build a family environment.
For an assignment, Iraggi had the students write about what it means to them to be a Great Expectations Model School.
One student said, “Being a GE Model School is a great, great honor. Great Expectations is one of the main reasons Nichols Hills is one of the best schools in Oklahoma. At a GE school, teachers know that they can teach children anything, and I mean anything! And to me, that’s what Great Expectations means. To push students to do the best they can do, and be the best they can be.”
“A GE school is a school that will care about what happens to you,” wrote another Nichols Hills student. “To be a GE school means that teachers will help you if you don’t understand something. GE teachers will even stay after school to help you until you understand it.”
Students Are At Home
With strong procedures in place, students feel very safe and comfortable at the school; so much so that students come back years after graduating to tutor or volunteer because they feel at home in the school.
“The students don’t have to wait to be told what to do, they know exactly what to do,” said Iraggi. “The fact that the students know what the expectations are, they know the structure and they are present every day makes the students feel very safe.”
Iraggi had two brothers enroll at the school and while giving them a tour, one of them pretended to sneeze and call Iraggi an inappropriate name. Iraggi ignored it at first, but later called the student into her office and explained that such behavior would not be tolerated, as it was inconsistent with the school’s culture and values. After a couple of months, the two brothers totally transformed their behavior. The brothers’ parents were involved in the school and thanked Iraggi for the success that the brothers have had.
“Parents have cried when I tell them I will take their students on transfer,” said Iraggi. “Parents are very proud about the school and the environment that we provide.”