First Presenter's Institution

Desert Heights Academy

Second Presenter's Institution

Desert Heights Academy

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Verelst

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Safety & Violence Prevention

Relevance

The Values Grounded Learning Environment (VGLE) is centered on a shared vision that promotes a positive and safe school culture for both students and staff to grow and learn. This evidence based approach includes a developmentally informed stage system that emphasizes data tracking to assess student progress. Positive reinforcement is the centerpiece, supporting student and staff behavior that is aligned with established values that promote growth and success. Clear expectations and values foster a school climate that is consistent, predictable, and safe. The Productive Conflict Model, integrated within the Values Grounded Learning Environment, recognizes that conflict can be a meaningful catalyst for learning and growth to occur – when managed in a manner that is aligned with positive values such as respect, humility, and accountability. The Productive Conflict approach invites staff to see conflict as a part of most healthy relationships, decreasing the tendency to be conflict avoidant. Staff and students use the productive conflict approach to manage the process of going out of one’s comfort zone to learn, practice, and acquire new academic and social - emotional skills. This model provides staff and educators with concrete tools and strategies that optimize their abilities to thoughtfully respond to student behaviors and contributes to the consistency and predictability of the school climate by focusing all parties on student behaviors and ultimately, student success.

Brief Program Description

The Values Grounded Learning Environment training provides educators with a comprehensive positive behavior management model, including basic strategies for effective limit setting and positive reinforcement. It is a user friendly model that can be implemented in a variety of educational settings and provides a framework for thoughtfully responding to student behaviors and emphasizing student and staff accountability.

Summary

The Values Grounded Learning Environment approach, supported by the Stage System and the Productive Conflict Model, provides a comprehensive positive behavior management system that establishes an effective learning environment and a positive school climate, including students facing a myriad of social and emotional challenges.

This session will guide attendees to consider their "vision" for their learning environment, to identify the values that support that vision and to develop ideas to bring that vision and those values to life. Suggested activities and techniques for implementing these will be shared. The session will also provide attendees with specific strategies and interventions for reinforcing/redirecting student behavior and teaching skills for safe emotion expression and advocacy, with an emphasis on evidence-based skills in effective limit setting, positive reinforcement, and student engagement.

The Values Grounded Learning Environment hinges on clear expectations and consequences, with an emphasis on POSITIVE consequences for behaviors aligned with established values. The Productive Conflict Model provides a framework for managing challenging and difficult behavior while maintaining the focus on demonstrating the values that promote growth and learning for ALL within the learning environment. This model supports staff and students in focusing on behaviors and allows staff to respond, not react, thoughtfully when behaviors are inappropriate. Specific Productive Conflict techniques will be discussed and practiced in session.

These frameworks and the specific strategies and interventions that comprise these, allow for the development of a Values Grounded Learning Environment that is consistent, predictable, and safe - a positive school climate that allows students to practice and observe the social and emotional skills necessary to healthy growth and development.

The session is interactive in nature and attendees will be asked to participate in discussion. The presenters conduct the training by modeling the techniques and strategies that reflect the practices of the Values Grounded Learning Environment.

Evidence

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has been established as an effective practice for managing learning environments and structuring support for students facing emotional and behavioral challenges. PBIS is an approach to providing students with the supports they require based on data collection, a multi-tiered system of increasingly individualized interventions, and with a focus on positive behavioral interventions that reinforce desirable and adaptive behaviors.

The Values Grounded Learning Environment, supported by the Stage System and the Productive Conflict Model, is founded on the same principles. This approach includes the components identified as comprising the PBIS system, “(a) a statement of purpose, (b) school wide expectations, (c) procedures for teaching school wide expectations, (d) a continuum of procedures for encouraging school wide expectations, (e) a continuum of procedures for discouraging problem behaviors, and (f) procedures for using data” (Coffey & Horner, 2012; Lewis & Sugai, 1999).

In addition, this approach also includes very specific strategies and interventions to support the vision and values of the learning environment. Research indicates that students who face significant risk factors, specifically those attending school in urban environments, must feel safe in their schools if they are going to be successful (Smith, 2011). Moreover, in order to establish a learning environment that feels safe, all educators and staff, as well as administrators, must collaborate to establish clear and consistent expectations and consequences, school wide, and attention must be paid to the whole student – to all of the biopsychosocial factors impacting their learning (Smith, 2011; Kauchak & Eggen, 2008).

It has been recognized in the literature that students identified as “at-risk” often struggle to cope with difficult moments appropriately and, as such, may rely on ineffective strategies that can increase their chances of progressive disciplinary measures or in danger (Smith, 2011). The Values Grounded Learning Environment provides many opportunities for students to learn, observe, and practice social and emotional skills necessary for success, both in school and in life.

Instead of values or social skills being discussed only during counseling sessions or skills groups, educators and staff are trained to help students recognize when their behaviors are aligned with the learning environment values, by offering positive reinforcement. They also help students to recognize when their behaviors are not aligned with these values by identifying and redirecting the misbehavior and applying an appropriate consequence that teachers the student a more suitable replacement behavior that reflects one or more of the learning environment values. This approach emphasizes the focus on student behaviors and supports the students in developing and practicing appropriate responses that will allow them to safely express themselves and advocate for their needs, in school and in life.

Students who have the most difficult time accepting this type of guidance and support are often students who have been struggling for the longest time. Therefore, it may take more time (and patience) to help them recognize their role in their own lives – to accept that they can make choices that will impact the valence of the consequences that will follow. This can be a difficult process for students, and for staff.

The Productive Conflict Model, which is used to support the Values Grounded Learning Environment, provides a framework for managing these challenging situations. Simonsen & Sugai, in examining the implementation of PBIS in Alternative Education, astutely recognized that despite being unproductive, these situations often cause staff members and educators to react quickly and punitively in an effort to squelch undesired behaviors (2013). Research indicates that reactivity in these moments is more likely to escalate or increase undesirable / disruptive behaviors and to potentially harm relationships (Simonsen & Sugai, 2013; Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004). The Productive Conflict Model empowers staff and educators with specific strategies and techniques to maintain their focus on student behaviors, while validating the student’s emotions and providing feedback and assigning consequences, appropriately and objectively.

In addition to the Productive Conflict Model, the Stage System (a developmentally informed classroom system) supports student progress and skill development by clearly outlining specific expectations from the moment a student enters the program until the time when they are ready to graduate to a less restrictive environment. The Stage System draws upon research that emphasizes the importance of students developing self-management strategies. These strategies have been identified as essential for students identified as having an emotional disability, specifically in terms of their achievement and engagement (Hanover, 2013).

The Stage System very clearly identifies behavior expectations and specific point totals the student is required to earn each day to begin progressing up through the model. At the end of each class period, educators and staff invite students to consider their performance during that class and to consider and share how many points they believe they earned. This strategy empowers students to participate in tracking their progress. This also provides students and staff with an opportunity to make sure both parties understand the expectations, what the student did well, and areas for improvement.

Positive reinforcement, specifically tangible reinforcement, has been shown to be especially helpful to students struggling with working memory issues, diagnoses of ADHD, and/or other disorders that impact attention and memory such as PTSD. The Stage System allows for data collection/progress tracking but also structures different forms of positive reinforcement, including school currency. School currency is a form of positive reinforcement given when a student’s behavior is aligned with the learning environment values, and also serves as a tangible reminder of that positive behavior.

The Values Grounded Learning Environment, supported by the Stage System and the Productive Conflict Model is aligned with best practices in education, specifically for serving students who are facing social and emotional risk factors/challenges and those identified as having an emotional disability. This approach uses a comprehensive positive behavior management system in conjunction with a specific framework for managing conflict and student progress is tracked using a developmentally informed Stage System. This approach, while sharing many components with PBIS, also teaches skills for managing the conflict that will necessarily emerge when students begin to learn and grow, and emphasizes the importance of linking behaviors and values to improve student understanding and student and staff commitment to the Values Grounded Learning Environment.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Michael Redivo is a clinical psychologist, specializing in child, adolescent, and family psychology. Throughout his career, he has served in various roles including private practitioner, clinical director, training director, and consultant. Michael maintains an active interest in training and education, supervising educators, administrators, mental health professionals, and doctoral and post-doctoral students at various levels in their education. He is published in professional journals and he has taught at the graduate level. Over the past 15 years, Michael has conducted numerous workshops and presentations to various school districts. The Values Grounded Learning Environment model stems from his interest in supporting the “growing up” process in students AND staff as well as meaningful and sustainable change within schools. He currently serves as Executive Director at Desert Heights Academy, a private school for students with significant behavioral challenges. He lives in Mesa, Arizona and he is married with two children.

Dr. Lynn Coleman is a counseling psychologist, specializing in working with children, adolescents, and families. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work in Boston, MA, working first as direct care staff at therapeutic schools and hospitals and then as a clinician in schools and community health centers. Lynn completed her post-doctoral residency at Desert Heights Academy during the 2015-2016 school year and is now thrilled to continue her work at DHA, overseeing clinical cases and providing training – all to support students, at DHA and beyond, in transitioning towards success.

Keyword Descriptors

Positive behavior management, School culture, Values, Vision, Social emotional skills

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 1:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 2:15 PM

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Mar 7th, 1:00 PM Mar 7th, 2:15 PM

The Values Grounded Learning Environment: Developing a Positive School Culture and Student Success

Verelst

The Values Grounded Learning Environment training provides educators with a comprehensive positive behavior management model, including basic strategies for effective limit setting and positive reinforcement. It is a user friendly model that can be implemented in a variety of educational settings and provides a framework for thoughtfully responding to student behaviors and emphasizing student and staff accountability.