SRPC Training Approach
Think BIG & be SMART 4R students©
If there’s one thing that all teachers are familiar with, it is the ineffective nature of most current professional development programs. Known as “PD,” these training sessions are intended to better prepare teachers for what they do best: teach and interact with students.
While PD’s intentions are worthwhile, many teachers have discovered that the PD sessions they attend often are not. The most common complaint among teachers regarding PD is that it often leaves them feeling confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Even worse, they feel this way after much wasted time and energy given to these programs. Besides, new teacher training can eat up as much as 5% of the school district’s budget.
Unfortunately, these programs typically last only one school year (if not one semester). They are often discarded for a different program before they’re given a chance to succeed. The dizzying speed at which programs are introduced, implemented, and then inevitably scrapped for other programs often leaves teachers with a severe PD whiplash case.
The result is that many teachers have developed a sense of cynicism towards PD. Cynicism leads to less and less buy-in. None of this is good for schools, teachers, or, most importantly, students.
- The biggest issue with PD isn’t the quality of training programs teachers are asked to buy into or implement.
- It’s not even the frequency with which new programs are introduced.
- No, the most significant detriment to PD being a useful teacher training tool is the premise upon which it’s developed. This misguided premise is that:
- Teachers will automatically absorb the necessary skills and knowledge presented during PD by merely attending the PD.
- Osmosis works in science, but it does not work in teacher training.
- Merely cramming many teachers in an auditorium for 45 minutes after school while someone reviews a series of slides is not an effective way to train teachers. Not at all.
- Research shows that this type of herding and forced passive digestion of information has several opposite effects, many of which we’ve described above.
Here’s the SRPC® training approach – and why it works
We at SRPC believe we’ve discovered the key to effective PD for teachers. For teachers to fully buy into PD, it must 1) incorporate active learning, 2) support collaboration, and 3) provide expert support. These three traits are essential to teachers responding positively to the new ideas and concepts they encounter during PD sessions. They are the difference between tolerating PD and embracing it.
A coherent system should help teachers across the entire professional continuum; professional learning opportunities must assume that teachers know what is best for their students and give them the freedom to implement what they learn accordingly. These opportunities must also link directly to teachers’ experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom.
In other words, what teachers encounter during a PD session should somehow connect with their everyday interactions with students. It should also enhance what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis. Anything less than that is justifiably viewed as just another thing for teachers to do. Quite frankly, we believe they already have plenty on their plates.
We choose to view PD not as a final product but to an end. As one piece of the puzzle that hopefully leads to success for every student. We insist that well-designed and properly implemented PD must be considered an essential component of a more extensive teaching and learning system.
And at the heart of that system must lie a deep-seated desire to support students as they develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies they need to thrive in the 21st century. Any system that does not have the wellbeing and continued growth of its students as its primary motivation is destined to fail.
As for the “how” of SRPC® Training, we use the best practices approach. We define best practices as a “procedure that has been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results, and that is established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption.” We help great programs communicate effectively and work seamlessly together using our professional development templates.
We stand by our training methods because they’re based on researched methods, that work, and they’re easily shared with others. While other PD companies are content to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks, we choose to trust the methods that have produced positive results for teachers and students.
The Think BIG & be SMART 4R students© training
Our PD training is called “Think BIG & be SMART 4R students.” It is a common sense and social justice-based approach to giving teachers the tools they need to develop positive relationships with students. At its core are these fundamental beliefs:
- Relationships are critical to a positive and productive teacher/student dynamic.
- There is always an explanation for the behavior of young people. Part of an educator’s job is to discover why his or her students act in specific ways.
- Educators who are generous with their time, energy, and attention will inevitably have more positive relationships with students, leading to fewer classroom management issues and more positive participation.
- Restorative discipline is always a preferred approach when working with young people – and it works better in the long run than punitive punishment.
BUILD positive relationships with students, which is the key to equitable and safe schools. Positive relationships are critical in developing mutual respect and cooperation and maintaining open lines of communication.
We believe with every ounce of our being that students are not interested in how much teachers know, but they are interested in how much they care. Teachers should focus on positive words and ideas that support a well-managed, proactive classroom. They should BUILD trust, respect, appreciation, hope, and community.
By doing so, they’ll be well on their way to building the type of classroom they’ve always wanted.
IDENTIFY the problem behavior by asking critical questions. Some of these include:
- “What is going on around the student right now?”
- “Have any major situations occurred in this student’s life recently?”
- “Is this typical behavior for the student?”
- “Are there any obvious reasons for this behavior?”
- “Is the student reacting to shame, unmet needs, or something else?”
- “Have I examined my own emotions?”
The objective is not to escalate the situation by misjudging someone’s actions. Teachers can encourage positive behavior while also pro-actively mitigating unwanted behavior.
To do so, though, they need to reflect on their students’ strengths, weaknesses, likes/dislikes, barriers to positive behaviors, behavior patterns, and potential behavioral issues.
GIVE students the following:
- opportunities to repair the harm they cause
- high expectations
- support structures
- space and time to de-escalate
- the chance to explain their actions
By giving students attention when they are on-task and cooperating, teachers will help create a positive environment and a well-managed classroom.
Also, by giving students room for error, teachers won’t hold them to ridiculously high standards that they’ll never meet. They should use minor disruptions as teachable moments and use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce desired behaviors.
Remember: The Think BIG program is intended to function as a flexible guide for how teachers choose to 1) interact with students and 2) create their classroom environment. Participants in our training program won’t find a list of specific things they must say. Instead, these are fundamental concepts that can be used to guide their everyday interactions with students.
For example, we believe wholeheartedly in the benefits of building positive relationships with students. We are 100% convinced that teachers’ lives (and their students’ lives) will be infinitely more manageable and more enjoyable when they take the time to connect with their students.
But notice that we didn’t tell teachers how to do that. That’s because we trust teachers to do what works for them. They are, after all, the experts when it comes to their students and their teaching style.
Discipline is an instruction that produces self-control, precisely the skills necessary for demonstrating positive future behaviors. In contrast, punishment is a form of retribution or merely a way to inflict suffering for past actions. It does not necessarily serve a learning purpose, but rather “gets even.”
Before setting SMART goals for their consequences, teachers should ask themselves the following question:
“Is the goal of my consequence to discipline or punish?”
If they want to discipline students for the choices they’ve made, they’re setting them on the right path—the path towards respect, restoration, and relationship.
To discipline with SMART goals as their guide, teachers must ask these questions:
- “How does my consequence sync with the policies and expectations of my school?”
- “To what degree is my consequence manageable, both now and in the future?”
- “Is my consequence appropriate in that it fits the mistake made by the student?”
- “In what way is my consequence restorative?”
- “How does my consequence teach a replacement behavior?”
The main goal of any consequence is to encourage positive behaviors and mitigate the reoccurrence of negative behaviors. That’s why we train teachers to create SMART consequences for their students.
Our 4R student training is proactive conversation methods that seek maximum results using programs already working well in your school. Restorative approaches are based on four key features:
- Respect: Helping students value all people and listen to other opinions.
- Responsibility: Helping students recognize their contributions to a situation to own up to their mistakes.
- Repair: Helping students develop the problem-solving skills needed within a school community to repair harm.
- Reintegration: Working through a structured, supportive process that resolves the issue and ensures the behavior is not repeated. 4R proactive conversations allow students to remain in mainstream education while also achieving all the above.
Teachers will lead these proactive conversations to address potential issues before they arise in the classroom. We strongly believe in giving students a voice in the development of their school’s climate and culture. With that in mind, the 4R’s are a useful tool the educator can use to help students take ownership of building a more positive classroom and school climate.
This approach encourages students to develop new skills and identify support systems that can help them manage their behaviors and actively participate in their school and community.