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Edgewood Elementary Progresses by Staying Positive

The Edgewood staff was named a school of merit by the Wisconsin PBIS Network for its implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

When you walk into next fall, you’re likely to hear another language being spoken by students, teachers and principal Sue Sterner.

No, not Spanish or German, but rather the language of PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction-funded initiative aimed at improving student behaviors and learning atmospheres.

“We have a voice level system. You can walk into any room, and any teacher can say, ‘Can you put your voices at zero and (the students) all go silent,” Edgewood kindergarten teacher Sarah Jegier said. “Anyone in the building can use the language and they know what to do.”

Said Sterner: “If you say, ‘Give me five,’ they all know to put their hand up, stop talking and turn to face the speaker.”

Change in the school culture

PBIS is much more than just a special language the dozens of staff members and hundreds of students at Edgewood learned during the 2011-12 school year, and it’s even more than just a behavioral program, as its name suggests.

It’s become a way of life at Edgewood that revolves around three Rs: being respectful, responsible and ready.

“It’s a change in the school culture,” Sterner said. “It involves the lunchroom people, the custodian, all 44 people that work here. Everybody’s on board and everybody’s involved.”

PBIS promotes positive behaviors students engage in, and hoping those behaviors are repeated, or better yet, become contagious. And when they are repeated or spread, students theoretically spend less time out of class and more in class learning.

Students are rewarded for good behavior with a ticket that could result in classroom prizes, which are awarded at bi-weekly school assemblies that start and end with school-wide chants. Sandwiched between are teacher-led behavior reinforcement demonstrations.

Earlier this month, Edgewood was recognized by the Wisconsin PBIS Network as one of 114 schools of merit statewide for its implementation of PBIS, which was used in approximately 40 percent of Wisconsin schools in 2011-12.

The program has been implemented at all district schools, but Edgewood is the furthest along, according to Sterner, largely because of team leaders Jegier and guidance counselor Jackie Michlig, and the rest of the 12-member team that spent several hours last summer creating a system that would work at their school.

Three tiers for different students

Edgewood teachers and administrators implemented Tier 1 of PBIS last year, a universal tier meant to get all students and teachers on board in a basic way that can impact all students. Edgewood will implement Tier 2 next fall, giving behavior-challenged students more structured attention. Tier 3, the last of the program, is designed to be even more specific attention.

“It’s all about collecting data,” Sterner said. “I think what’s so great about it, if we try something and it’s not working, it’s not the kid. It’s our system of how we’re doing it. We need to find something else that’s working for that kid. What can we do as a system, a school?”

During the 2011-12 school year Edgewood used PBIS to manage a variety of common grade school woes, including issues of bad behavior on buses. The teachers and administration brought in busloads of students during the school day, went over the behavioral expectations of students and gave reward tickets to bus drivers to hand out to students who behaved well. Just like that, most issues vanished.

“And if kids were still having problems, we do something different for them, maybe an assigned seat toward the front,” Sterner said.

Jegier noticed her students were struggling with bathroom etiquette, like lining up quietly to use the restroom and behaving properly on their way to and from the restroom.

But after re-teaching the expectations and pointing out the positive behaviors she saw children participate in, she turned her students into model citizens, Sterner said.

Those are just two examples of teachers identifying problems through data collection, using the three Rs to address it, and then pointing out positive behaviors to fix it.

“You really have to tell (students) what they’re doing right,” Sterner said. “What people should realize, it’s not, ‘These are the rules, don’t cross them.’ We’re looking for what kids do right. When they get specific feedback about what they’re doing right, they’ll want to do it again, and it becomes part of what they do.”

Sterner said the implementation of PBIS at Edgewood has exceeded expectations. She said she’s received positive parent feedback, and the program has become a community-builder at the school.

Jegier called it a change in attitude.

“Adults in general are very good at finding the negative things that are happening, and it’s a shift to leaving the negative things alone, and instead talking and looking at the positives,” she said. “The kids see you talking about the positives; that’s what they’re going to want to do.”

John Seymour June 25, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Way to go Edgewood! Now, Mr. Farner, tell me why Ms. Sterner is the lowest paid administrator in the district while a new person, who failed miserably is paid $10,000 more than her. These students, teachers, and some admins. are succeed in spite of your idiocy.
Sue B. June 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Honestly...this comment just goes to show that even positive things happening in schools won't deter some people from constant negativity. How completely non-productive. Congrats to Edgewood...keep it up!
RAJ June 26, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Congrats to Edgewood, I agree with Sue B some comments need to be taken off. Great job to all..keep up the great work.
John Seymour June 26, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Here's the deal. There are some great people working in Greenfield Schools. Some of the best around. The leader of the District is not one of them. You absolutely have no idea what this man has done or is doing behind closed doors.
A concerned parent June 26, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Great Job Edgewood and Ms. Sterner and Staff! Hey John- the article said that Sterner used alternative motives and was involved with parents and feed back from parents. She was willing to help out students who needed the extra help- go that extra mile. The teachers modeled the behavior for their students and were able to express their opinions to Sterner about their data. And THAT is why it worked. Other schools in our district should take notice as to HOW she did things.
Jean June 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Great job Edgewood! PBIS is being instituted in all of the schools, Edgewood is farther ahead in the process. @John Seymour, please don't turn this thread about a positive happening in the district into another rant about Conrad Farner. You obviously work in the district or are very close to someone who works in the district. Please channel your energy into something positive. All of this negativity reflects badly on the district and the community!
A concerned parent June 26, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Does anyone know why PBIS is being implemented in our district? I'm not a fan of it, and I was under the impression that according to national standards a school simply needed some sort of a behavior system. Must it be a color system that is really complex (it was very complex at our school)? It seems that Edgewood is simple with the 3 R's. Guess I'm a bit confused on what exactly is supposed to be implemented with PBIS since it failed miserably at our school. Explanations?
karen k June 26, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I'd like to see Greenfield work on keeping good employees. The reality is that now that the principal has proven success, will she move on to a better paying district in a year or two? Not sure if anyone on the thread knows this but we have had a revolving door of principals. It is a valid concern that this talent is paid less than a " new" talent if that is true. It is good news for the community but we need to keep a constant watch on our ship.
Sue Sterner June 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM
This story is not about me or my position in Greenfield, it is about EDGEWOOD and what WE have accomplished as a staff and as a community. As a staff, we are have worked hard and are proud of our accomplishments. Our students are effectively and positively developing the life skills of being ready, responsible and respectful. You can see the hard work throughout our building and at events outside of school. That's exciting, and something to celebrate! Students, families and staff should be able to read this, and the comments and feel proud of their school and community. Thanks for understanding!
A concerned parent June 26, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Ms. Sterner- thanks for being a great role model! I do complement Edgewood on their success and hope that you as a leader are able to teach other schools in our district how to implement this model. I would simply like more information on PBIS. :-)
Erin Brown June 26, 2012 at 09:05 PM
My child has been at Edgewood before PBIS and now after PBIS has been implemented. My child never was a troublemaker at school but I still see and hear of the changes that Mrs. Sterner and the other members of her team enacted. The way it was presented to the children made it simple to understand and all of the children strived to get those tickets. I also saw it in action myself as a volunteer for field day. Sitting on the grass amid all those kids and when the teachers raised their hands the students followed and quieted down. I hear it at home as my child chants 'Edgewood Tigers are Ready!' Kudos to Mrs Sterner and the whole Edgewood team! Keep up the excellent work!
John Seymour June 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Anonymous, I'm sorry if it came across that way. Mrs. Sterner is AWESOME and DESERVES more pay/respect from CO. That is all I was saying. She is fantastic. I know this first hand. The fact that she makes less than other people who have been in the District only one year is a crime. She deserves more than she makes.
karen k June 26, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Yes, yes, kudos to the staff. Let's work to keep great teachers and principals as well. Of course, congrats to all of Edgewood.
David Cotey June 26, 2012 at 10:55 PM
At the request of the commenter, a comment in this thread has been deleted.
Tom Stacho July 03, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Congratulations Edgewood! PBIS is simply a common sense approach that can benefit everyone in one way or another. Tom at www.BehaviorInSchools.com
Tom Stacho July 03, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Congratulations Edgewood! PBIS is simply a common sense approach that can benefit everyone in one way or another. Tom at www.BehaviorInSchools.com

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