Bartlesville Central Middle School educators gain strategies to manage behavior after methodology training
As a first-year elementary educator at Claremore Public Schools in Oklahoma, Ryan Huff decided to attend a week-long Great Expectations Summer Institute in Tulsa with a few of his colleagues. He absolutely loved it. When Huff brought the research-based practices into his classroom to create a nurturing atmosphere, students began showing respect and modeling the desired attitudes.
“After going through the training and implementing the practices into my own classroom, I saw great results,” Huff said. “Not only in attitude, but in student achievement.”
Hesitation Turns to Excitement
After a few years teaching, Huff transitioned to Bartlesville Public Schools where he served at Central Middle School as vice principal and now as principal. A school consisting of 620 students and 48 educators, Bartlesville Central Middle School was approached by Great Expectations about five years ago to become a Model School. The school used a three-year grant for six educators to be trained in the methodology each year.
At first, the middle school staff was hesitant about the training since Great Expectations was traditionally seen as something only elementary schools completed. Educators weren’t sure it would work at the middle school level. But their minds quickly changed once teachers went through the first year of training.
“Once the first six teachers started implementing the practices into their classrooms, it gravitated to every other educator in the building,” Huff said. “They saw the great effects it was having, the great attitudes and the great behaviors that were occurring. Once these skills were being displayed in the original six classrooms, other teachers wanted to get on board.”
One question asked during the hiring process at Bartlesville Central Middle School is, “Do you know what Great Expectations is?” Some candidates do know, and some do not. But Huff sets the standard that Great Expectations is a key component in the school and district. So if incoming teachers aren’t already aware of the program, they will be soon.
“They are pretty eager to go through the methodology training,” Huff said. “All the time I hear from educators, both seasoned and first-years, that it was the most beneficial training they have ever had. They have nothing but great things to say about it.”
Referral Rates Decrease
When Huff first began at Central Middle School, discipline was a huge part of his job. Throughout the past three years, however, slowly but surely there has been a decrease in the number of write-ups.
“The number of student discipline referrals has continually decreased by 40-50 percent each year,” Huff said. “Our teachers have the tools in their toolbox to be able to manage behaviors in a way that keeps students in class without disrupting or distracting other learners.”
Educators See Results
Great Expectations is now embedded into every school in the Bartlesville Public School District. With a district of 10 schools and more than 6,000 students, Bartlesville Public Schools is a Great Expectations Model District, where every school in the district has been named a Model School – the first district in the country to earn the merit.
A couple years back, Huff had a veteran high school teacher in a meeting who was very unsure about Great Expectations. But after using his training and seeing the district use the practices for a couple year, the educator said, “I can really see the benefits of Great Expectations. No longer do I have to constantly tell the students to take their hat off or turn their cell phones down. It is a common practice from the elementary level all the way to the high school level that students now show respect to teachers and their peers.” This statement stood out for Huff and showed that it is truly working.
About Great Expectations
Great Expectations is a school transformation model that emphasizes a climate of mutual respect and academic excellence. Founded in 1991, the non-profit foundation provides intensive professional training to teachers and administrators that promote improved student self-esteem, attendance, discipline and parent participation – all of which result in improved student achievement. Great Expectations has a presence throughout Oklahoma and seven other states.