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Steckel teachers utilize habits program

The role of an educator goes far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. Teachers at Steckel Elementary School know forming good habits early on can lead to success later in life. That’s why the school has a SWPBS - SchoolWide Positive Behavior Support - committee that worked together to design a program that rewards students who exhibit positive habits.

At one time, monthly awards were given to students who exemplified specific character traits. Three years ago, when Cora Snyder became principal at Steckel, the SWPBS committee team decided to take a different approach, using the book “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” by Sean Covey.

“We thought that teaching the seven habits would provide students with a more kid-friendly approach to understanding the character traits we had focused on in the past,” said Samantha Solomon, leader of the SWPBS team. “Using the stories from Covey’s book and the student-centered language helps students to be able to apply the habits to their own lives at school and at home.”

Monthly awards are given to students displaying positive behavior, including habit one, be proactive; habit two, begin with the end in mind; habit three, put first things first; habit four, think win-win; habit five, seek first to understand, then to be understood; habit six, synergize; and habit seven, sharpen the saw.

Homeroom teachers choose one child who has been displaying the targeted habit, which is discussed at school and communicated to parents in a weekly letter. Recipients are given a certificate, and a schoolwide announcement is made to recognize them. The learn-at-home students are included as well and receive their awards in the mail.

Students can demonstrate they are capable of practicing good habits, such as being responsible, planning and working ahead, respecting others and being accountable for their actions and choices.

Solomon gave an example of how it works using habit three.

“As a teacher, I will choose a student who always gets [his or her] classwork done before moving on to a game or an optional activity - ‘work first, then play!’” Solomon said.

According to Solomon, awarding good habits recognizes, rewards and reinforces positive behavior.

“SWPBS is absolutely essential to the culture of Steckel Elementary. We are the Steckel S.T.A.R.S. S stands for safe, T is for team player, A is for achiever, R is for respectful, and S is for self-disciplined,” Solomon explained.

Each day, the daily habit is discussed during the morning announcements, and students recite a Steckel pledge.

Solomon said teachers and staff do an excellent job recognizing behavior befitting of the acronym. Students earn Steckel stars as part of a token system, where small rewards can be exchanged for a larger incentive.

She added the SWPBS committee also altered the rewards available to students during the 2019-20 school year in order to be more “experience and relationship based to continue to strengthen student relationships.”

The SWPBS program is a proactive way for students to develop positive behaviors at an early age and understand the role they play in their school community.

“SWPBS allows for students to be aware of what is expected of Steckel STAR students in our building,” Solomon said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Dominyk Mlodossich proudly displays his Habit of the Month certificate. He is a second-grade learn-at-home student at Steckel Elementary School. His teacher is Samantha Solomon.