Professional Development: The Behavior Code

Professional development efforts among faculty and staff in 2015-2016 were on the importance of social-emotional learning.
Over the course of the fall, all teachers read The Behavior Code by Jessica Minahan and Nancy Rappaport, MD, and while the book focuses on strategies to support the most challenging students, the ideas from the book can be applied towards creating a learning environment that supports the social-emotional wellbeing of all students.

Teachers began to observe one another across all grade levels and disciplines to collect data on student engagement. By having objective data from multiple times of day and within different types of learning activities, teachers could look for patterns of on-task behavior to determine which practices were most successful. For moments where students were not engaged, teachers were able to look at what was happening right before that may have been an antecedent to the resulting behavior.

The purpose of these observations is to give teachers data in a nonjudgmental way that they can use to improve their practice, and therefore the experience of our students. However, other benefits emerged. Faculty enjoyed the collaborative nature of this process. Often, the teachers performing the observations noticed effective strategies that they were able to use in their own classrooms. Reading a common book further supports a culture of collaboration and provides a common language that can be used when discussing student engagement and behavior across the school. These observations are a valuable tool that will continue to support academic excellence in the years to come.