Voices From the Field: Reflections on Climate and Culture at Winthrop

Submitted by Rob Travaglini, Senior Director of School and District Support, CT TIME Collaborative

pbis bulletin board As a part of our role in monitoring the progress of schools involved in the Connecticut expanded learning time initiative (the CT TIME Collaborative), we regularly assess the critical variable of climate and culture in our schools. Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School in New London is one of our participating schools.

We would like to commend the work completed this year in creating a vibrant, positive support system in this school. In the past, Winthrop School resembled so many of our schools in their understanding and implementation of a school-wide system of positive behavioral supports. We so often hear, “Oh, we do PBIS”, when upon observation and inspection, the school typically has at best a random, infrequently seen, inconsistently applied ticket system of some sort. These schools continue to rely on nagging and negative consequences as their primary systems, not of support, but of control.

The change at Winthrop school this spring is nothing short of remarkable. Visible throughout the school is the SPARKS framework (Self Control, Participation, Accountability, Respect, Kindness, Safety). In the upper grades, it is clear that the students themselves have created the working behavioral definitions of these attributes. Throughout the school, in every grade and setting, staff were observed systematically and unobtrusively appropriately recognizing students for demonstrating the behaviors of the framework. In many cases, the primary providers of reinforcement were the paraprofessional staff who quietly circulate while the teachers teach. In every setting observed this spring, students were engaged and focused, demonstrating the attributes of successful learners. It will be exciting to watch this good foundational work continue to develop.

[For more information about the CT TIME Collaborative please visit the website for The National Center on Time and Learning at www.timeandlearning.org.]

Published: June 19, 2015