Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Draft Action Research Report

The Effects of Implementing I.S.S. Program on Student Achievement, Student Discipline, and School Climate-In Progress
Lisa Smith Vasquez
EDLD 5397
August 7, 2012
Needs Assessment
Upon addressing areas needing improvement with the principal, the first words out of his mouth were discipline and the need to implement a strong I.S.S. program. I think an important place to begin looking for what the needs of this campus are is to look at last year’s referrals. I plan to collect and evaluate the following data: student demographics, special education status, referring staff member, reason for I.S.S. referral, number of days assigned, and location where offense occurred. I also intend to survey teachers and students to form an opinion on the state of the school climate and narrow down the exact areas needing discipline improvement. I accessed the 2011 AYP report listing and found that even though the campus is recognized, it missed the AYP requirements in both math and reading performance.
          Objectives and Vision of the action research project. (ELCC 1.1)
I envision the creation of this program to be centered on specific individualized student behavior rehabilitation. I.S.S. will not be just a place where students are sent for a time-out. It will be a program that assists and mentors students into making better choices by teaching desired behaviors and highlighting positive expectations. In order for this to take place, it will require the collaboration and efforts of all faculty members to develop and consistently apply a uniform set of rules and consequences.
I believe this can be attained by working closely with the site-based decision making committee and providing in-depth training on de-escalation and behavior management methods. So as I set out on this endeavor, my expectations are that in the course of one year, this campus will be able to put into place a uniform set of rules and consequences, and an effective I.S.S. program that promotes changed behavior. By doing so, the campus will see a 10% increase in student achievement, a 30% decrease (modest number, hoping for higher percent) in referrals, and an overall higher moral for students and faculty.
Review of the Literature and Action Research Strategy
My project begins with an immersion in literature on best practices with discipline and effective I.S.S. programs. According to Morris and Howard (2003), “An effective program generally holds students accountable for school assignments and involves some aspect of rehabilitation or functional behavior assessment/replacement” (p. 157). As my research continued, I found that there are several important aspects to consider when developing an effective I.S.S. program. Sanders (2001) provides some key elements to consider when implementing a successful in-school suspension program: selectivity, consistency, constructive supervision, student reflection on his/her behavior, behavior modification plans/implementation/follow-up, and parental involvement (p. 51-54). I am still researching discipline methods. The following list entails articles I intend to use for my research:
Haley, A.N., & Watson, D.C. (2000). In-school literacy extension: Beyond in school
suspension. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 43, 654-661.
Morris, R.C. & Howard, A.C. (2003). Designing an effective in-school
suspension program. The Clearing House, 76, 156-159.
Sanders, D. (2001). A caring alternative to suspension. Education Digest, 66(7),
My initial meetings to get this project started will begin with the principal, assistant principal, and I.S.S. teacher. Once we are able to determine common visions and goals, we will have to broaden our group to include all faculty and parents. I would like to get the site-based decision making committee and PTA involved. Decisions will have to be made about adopting a universal expectation and consequence code, as well as, exactly what our I.S.S. program will include. I think it will be very important to consider what is currently working and what needs to be addressed to improve the climate and culture of the school.
Articulate the Vision (ELCC 1.2)
My first step will be to work with my immediate team consisting of the principal, assistant principal, and I.S.S. teacher. It is vital that we collaborate and come up with a united vision and goals before we proceed any further. Once we are all on the same page, we will be able to facilitate our desire to improve campus climate, student discipline, and student achievement to the rest of the faculty. I plan to survey both teachers and students to determine exact areas of need. I also intend to have a faculty meeting to brainstorm and gather ideas for universal rules and consequences. At this point, I would like to form a committee or work with the site-based decision making committee to narrow down and determine a discipline/I.S.S. program. Once this is done, I want to make this endeavor a focus of the PTA in order to give parent’s a voice and also to inform them of procedural changes. After all of the adults have come to a consensus, I want 1st period teachers to explain the rules, consequences, and procedures to the students and have the students and parents sign a contract. I plan to post the new policies and procedures on both the school website and newspaper.
Manage the organization (ELCC 3.1)
There are several steps I need to take to get this project started. First, I plan to put together a report on effective I.S.S. I am going to share this report with the principal along with my vision for the program. I want to get his approval and consent before moving forward. If need be, I will go back and make adjustments. At this point, I think that it is imperative to meet with the assistant principal and I.S.S. teacher. I would like to have the program in place at least by the first week of school. The I.S.S. teacher will be in charge of implementing all new procedures, and I, along with the administration, will provide support.
 At this point, I am ready to begin phase two of my project and begin collecting data. I will desegregate the information from last year’s referrals, survey teacher, students, and counselors. I would also like to survey parents at a PTA meeting. I will make a Prezi Presentation of the information obtained to share with all staff at a faculty meeting. I would like to be able to present this presentation within the first month of school starting. By the end of the meeting, I would like to set up a special committee to work on a campus wide rule and consequence program. I am going to put the principal in charge of getting training and development for all staff on behavior management.
I would like for the new rules and consequences to be in place by the beginning of the second semester. Once implemented, I will be in charge of speaking with staff members routinely on a weekly basis to see how the implementation is working. I will also be collaborating with the administration to understand if the rules and consequences are being applied consistently. I intend on meeting with the committee on a biweekly basis to address any issues. At the end of the year, I will check the number of referrals and do more surveys to assess the climate.
        Respond to Community Interest and Needs (ELCC 4.2)
My intentions in setting up an effective I.S.S. program include behavior management intervention.  I plan on using the counselors and worksheets to help the students think through the consequences of their actions. This reflection time will allow student to see that other choices were available to them rather than misbehavior. This will allow students to become better decision makers and will reduce than number of discipline referrals in time. In addition, any student receiving special services or IEP’s will receive the same services while serving their I.S.S. time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Human Resource Management Week 1

This past week I began my human resource management class after a well needed break! Honestly, this class sounded a little boring because when I hear the term HR I think rules, guidelines, and proceedures, but what I found out was that this topic is truly inspiring! I read an article called "Bridging the Gap". This article addressed a nationwide epidemic of a shortage of good teachers and strong leaders. It provided a great example of on school disrtict going the extra mile to make their teacher and leaders life-long learners.

 I also delved into conflicts and how to solve them. I am running a children's program at church, and I have tried to apply what I am learning from these leadership classes into my role as commander of Awana Club. I have found that I am learning how to be disciplined, how to keep my mouth shut, and how to listen to others. In a way, it has been a very calming experience. However, I have also come to realize that many of the techniques we are learning about take time to develop, and I am glad I get a chance to practice them at church!

I had the chance to really study and reflect on principal competencies and skills. Going through activities such as the survey on what I've seen and observed and also locating this set of skills in an article has really helped me gain a true understanding of what is expected as a pricipal. This knowledge will help me have confidence and present myself has a highly qualified candidate when the time comes.

I  truly feel inspired and motivated by the literature I am reading, and I hope I can be one of those great leaders who can make a difference. Some of the things I learned this week that I think will be invaluable tools in my endeavor are: don't fight or flight, but fix conflicts, establish clear guidlines of expectations of teachers and other staff and use summative data to help develop leaders, use effective communication strategies, and establishing life-long learning patterns. I look forward to the next chapter of my journey!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Action Research Plan

These last few weeks I have been working hard to establish a plan for research on a topic that I would like to help improve. I focused on students on behavior intervention plans. My idea is that if we are able to rain teachers to able successfully work with the worst behaved students, then they should be able to work with all students and eliminate most if not all discipline issues. Here is my plan:

Action Planning Template
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
A study will be done to see what strategies can be implemented in the classroom to reduce the number of behavior problems in the classroom with students on behavior intervention problems.

I would like to work with a sample group of five regular education teachers on the same team and also pair them with a special education teacher for peer mentoring/coaching. The target students will be the students on that team who are on intervention plans, but have not been successful in the classroom and are receiving office referrals.
The study will take place over one semester beginning in the spring.
1. I will need to look at office referrals for special education students specifically those that have behavior intervention
2. The behavior intervention plans of the students taking place in the study.
3. Survey the regular education teachers about the use of the interventions on individual student’s behavior plans.
1. I will need to compare the number of referrals at the beginning of the study with those at the end.
2. Review the behavior intervention plan and teacher surveys to address areas of need.
I will research solutions to help students on behavior intervention plans stay on track and be successful in the classroom.

I will do the research, but I will collaborate with the team of teachers participating in my study on the solutions and theories that I find.
I will read and research solutions for at least one-two hours a day for one month prior to beginning study. During this time, I will design a research brief including a thorough outline of my inquiry.
I will do a Google search in the following areas: how to read and understand a behavior intervention plan, how to implement a behavior intervention plan, and what solution have other educators found to be successful in eliminating behavior problems.
I will compile a step by step plan that consists of solutions for eliminating behavior problems, especially for students on intervention plans.
I will share my findings with the team of teachers participating in my study.

The teachers involved, the special education peer mentor/coach, and myself.
Two weeks prior to beginning the study.
We will need to review the specific areas being addressed in the classroom and the data collected from my research. We will discuss their thoughts on the solutions presented.
We will determine if new wonderings form, and if more research needs to be done, or if we are ready to move forward with what we have. If more research will be done, we will need to meet again the following week.
Draft a plan of action that the team will take to eliminate behavior problems in the classroom, and decide how and when they will be able to work with the special education mentor/coach.

I will confer with the principal to make sure that he is on board with the solutions that we will be trying and make sure that we have all available resources needed.
One week prior to beginning the study.
The plan of action and a list of required materials if any.
If the principal and teachers agree, we will be ready to try the strategy plan.
We will begin implementing the solutions in the classroom at the beginning of the second semester.
The teachers participating, students who have been unsuccessful in behaving in the classroom, the special education mentor.
This will begin in the spring semester and continue until the end of the school year.
1. Teachers will need to share weekly what is working for them and what they are having difficulty in implementing.
2. The peer coach will need to provide assistance during class at least twice a week and provide feedback to the regular education teacher.
I will need to monitor referrals/behavior complaints.
I will take field notes, and collaborate with the team weekly. We will have to revise our action plan as necessary.
A report of the successful strategies will be drafted, as well as the strategies that did not.
The team of teachers, the special education coach, and myself.
This will take place at the end of the semester.
1. Completed Surveys.
2. Any office referrals of the students over the semester.
3. Field notes.
4. Interview the students on their experiences.
I should be able to provide a comprehensive plan that eliminates/reduces behavior issues in the classroom designed for students on intervention plans, but not limited just to them.
Share the techniques and strategies, that the team found successful, with other colleagues,  so that they can be used school wide.
The teachers involved, the special education peer mentor/coach, and myself.
Staff development at the beginning of the year.
1. A review of what was studied and the strategies that were successful.
2. The special education coach will describe how to use the strategies.
3. The teachers will discuss how they were able to make the strategies work for them.
All teachers will be able to implement the strategies in their classrooms and office referrals will be reduced/eliminated.

Format based on Tool 7.1 from Examining What We Do to Improve Our Schools
(Harris, Edmonson, and Combs, 2010)
I look forward to hearing your advice, sugesstions, and comments. Hope your all having a great week!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Looking Back to Move Forward

This week I have been reading and studying about real life examples of action research. Taking the time to analyze other's experiences with action research has really helped me formulate "the big picture" in my head.  By engaging in action research, I have a whole tool box of ideas and solutions available to me. If I take the time to implement action research into my own schedule and campus, my school will not feel isolated and alone. I do not have to feel stressed and pressured to come up with results because I can research and learn from others. I can use the experience of other educators and administrators to see what has worked and has not worked. Then, I can use the data from my school to help take what others have done and tweak it, so that if fits the unique needs of my own campus.

The examples that I studied this week were focused into the following nine passions:  staff development, curriculum development, individual teacher(s),individual student(s), school  culture/community, leadership,  management, school performance, and social justice or equity issues. Looking at the importance of the nine passions helped me compartmentalizemy priorities. I thought about how each passion connects to the other and how it is important to dedicate time to each area in order to ensure success for a campus.

Finally this week, I thought about some inquiries that I would like to engage in and came up with these ideas:
1st Area- Coping with Students on Behavior Intervention Plans
  • Do teachers understand how to use the different interventions and modifications correctly?
  • Is there another strategy being used that other schools have found successful?
  • Can we use these strategies with all of our students?
  • How can parents be involved in order to help ensure the success of their child?
2nd Area- The Change from TAKS to STARRs
  • How can we make teachers and students feel less anxious about the changes?
  • What can we do to better prepare teachers and students for the STARR test?
3rd Area- Reading
  • What actions can faculty take to inspire more reading out of the classroom?
I have not been able to determine exactly which project I will be doing.
At this time, I have not secured a school site supervisor. I am currently unemployed, and when I did have a job, it was at a district that is located about fifteen miles from where I live. I want to use this opportunity to work in the district where I live. In order to become an intern with this district, there are several things that have to be in place, such as a letter from the university, a TB test, and background check. I am currently working to have all the necessary paperwork in place. I did inquire around the community about who are the best principals. I have scheduled meetings with two different principals this week. Hopefully, one of them will agree to let me intern, and at that time, I intend on sharing my ideas for my action research project. I am excited to meet with the principals this week and see where the next leg of this journey takes me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Blog Anyway?

Blogging is a great way to create a community of learners to share ideas with and collaborate on common issues, and it also provides you with a diary of your experiences and activities to help you go back and reflect on your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Journey Begins!

As I decided to take the path to becoming an administrator, so many doubts and questions crossed my mind. Would I be able to lead an entire school the right way? How would I deal with conflicts? Would I be able to bring a team together? I prayed, took a deep breath, and promised myself that I would work hard. I am excited to say that all ready in my second class I am learning ways to handle some of the very situations that I was worried about.

This week I have been reading about action research. Action research is a great tool that administrators and teachers can engage in to facilitate change and improvement. In the past, this was left up to outsiders. These outsiders were considered experts even though they did not actually work with students. These "experts" would study about schools, and then prescribe how something should be done. While this was fine in theory, it left a lot of holes and unanswered questions.

Action research makes the people working, day to day, with students the experts. This happens because they actually take what they know and make it better by becoming more knowledgable. For example, a teacher or an administrator takes the time to reflect on practices they have been using. They focus on one specific area at a time. After the area is determined, they then read all pertinent literature on their topic. Once they have gathered information, they then share with others what they learned. When this has been accomplished, they are ready to implement changes.

Engaging in these kinds of practices offers tons of benefits. This is teambuilding in action, literally. People working together experiencing success builds bridges and opens numerous doors. In addition, a faculty that engages in reading and research are continuously learning. This ensures that teachers and administrators are experts in their context area and pursuers of improving school climate and culture. Curriculum will continuously be improving, which will make the student’s lives richer, as well as improve tests scores. Action research also provides a sounding board for dealing with conflict. If the parties involved are willing to take the time, they can work together to find the best solutions.

I am excited to try this process out! I really believe that engaging in these practices will make me a stronger leader! I'll keep you posted on how my experiences pan out.