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The Trifecta of Success: Where Behavior Meets Academics

The Trifecta of Success: Where Behavior Meets Academics

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

-Walt Disney

You are probably wondering, who are these people writing this article and what do they do? We belong to a group of individuals who are referred to as Special Education Interventionists.

And what do we actually do? We provide strategic intervention to teachers and students across the continuum of services available within Special Education. You might be asking yourself what that means. The simple answer is that we support teachers as they strive to ensure EVERY student is known by name, strength, and need. We exist to support you and your students in any way possible. We measure our success through your success and the success of your students. So, instead of talking about ourselves, we want to focus on what we see every day in classrooms across the district to showcase the efforts that others strive for each day to provide support for their students from promise to purpose.

What you will find in this series of articles is that ALL the teachers we will highlight utilize three specific strategies in their classrooms to ensure student success. And thus, the title “The Trifecta of a Successful Classroom” was born. The Trifecta is comprised of these strategies: removing the fear of failure within their classrooms, using appropriate classroom management, and establishing positive relationships with their students and peers. Although many of the examples to be discussed will overlap across all three categories, each is as important individually as they are together.

Part 1-Fearless Learning in the Classroom

When we think about what it means to remove the fear of failure from a classroom, it is important to discuss what that looks like in action. So let’s start by providing a few examples from various classrooms around the district. We believe that what you will find is many of these strategies will look the same, but the delivery is different. Each teacher has their own unique twist on the delivery. One of the greatest examples that we had the pleasure of experiencing in action was in Ms. Chuckran’s and Ms. Shiflet’s ELA class at Klein Collins. These ladies do an amazing job of using their personal experiences to guide their students to higher learning by showing them that it is okay to make mistakes and fail forward. One specific example was how forthcoming Ms. Chuckran was to the class in explaining that during their planning for the lesson’s station activities that they had overlooked something and made an assumption–both of which caused them to have to revise the lesson plan. The second example was provided to us when we noticed stitches in Ms. Shiflet’s forehead. She shared with us that she had been in a rush leaving campus one afternoon and had been walking to her car while talking to a student. In her haste, she turned and ran directly into the mirror of a parked bus so hard she almost fell. She called Ms. Chuckran once she made it to her car, and they met at the urgent care center. Ms. Shiflet had to have a few stitches, so Ms. Chuckran stayed with her to video it for the class. They shared this experience with their classes, including the video, as a way of showing them how everyone makes mistakes at times. Students thrive off knowing that we, as educators, are human just like them. Ms. Mitchell and Ms.Craft, also at Klein Collins, used their own experiences as they worked through the Tin Man project to explain important details to their students. Ms. James and Mr. Clark, at Klein Cain, use student feedback they receive during “family time” to reflect on themselves and how they can improve their teaching practices.

As we watched Ms. Shiflet and Ms. Chuckran, one of the greatest indicators of this strategy was the way they facilitated student responses through guided questions. This strategy prompted the students to discover answers through positive feedback and more. They never used the word “no” or told students that their ideas were wrong. This is something that our other teaching pairs have in common as well. Ms. Endsley and Ms. Degutis, at Klein Oak, are constantly reiterating their belief in all of their students’ abilities to be creative and successful in their work. In addition, they provide students with the freedom to become leaders and to take ownership in both successes and fail forward moments.

One of the best methods of removing the fear of failure for students will always come in the degree of preparation that is taken to ensure that student readiness is considered in the lesson design from day-to-day. There is no better example of this than Ms. Beno and Ms. Allred at Zwink Elementary. What could be more challenging than ensuring student engagement the day after students have spent two days doing STAAR testing? Yet, somehow these two wonderful teachers found a way to do it, and their students LOVED it! As we made our way around the room watching and talking to students, it was easy to see how enthusiastic and energetic these students were to learn and practice their knowledge through the creative activities that were prepared in the different stations. Each station focused on an aspect of meaningful vocabulary retention in 5th grade science. All the stations were student-led and interactive. The students transitioned seamlessly from station to station with minimal need for teacher intervention. In addition to the amount of preparation that goes into lesson planning ahead of time is the amount of time spent providing guidance to the students in the classroom to ensure their success in activities and assignments. Ms. Cranford and Ms. Courts at Ulrich demonstrate this effective practice on a daily basis. When we arrived, they were going through countless examples with students that were similar to the problems they would be responsible for completing on their own during the scavenger hunt activity. As they discussed the use of each formula, both teachers would ask questions that guided students to the discovery of information, being able to justify their answers, and steps to solving each problem. This method of inquiry continued as students began the scavenger hunt. The students seemed to really understand what they were doing and how to guide others to do it as well. We saw students utilizing each other to work through problems instead of just asking for answers.

Think about it, if we know we will not fail, aren’t we more apt to take on any task? These teachers and many others around our district have taken the fear factor out of learning.  Their students feel safe, loved, and encouraged at all times, which removes all unwanted behaviors and increases classroom success.

Make sure you tune in next week as we continue our discussion with another critical element in the Trifecta, effective classroom management, and highlight more wonderful teachers.

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Klein ISD is a school district in Klein, Texas located in northwestern Harris County. The district spans approximately 87.5 square miles and serves more than 54,000 students in 33 elementary schools, 10 intermediate campuses, one high school program of choice, and 5 high schools.

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The Trifecta of Success: Where Behavior Meets Academics

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