Creating a Normative Culture
It means building a community — which includes our school, and where students and staff come together daily. It’s not just designed for students, but for the staff as well. This “culture” emphasizes positive behaviors that are expected, called Norms.
What makes Normative Culture work is the power of Positive Peer Influence. Kids often listen to friends and want to do what they’re doing rather than taking advice from adults. Some peer influence can be negative (e.g., gangs), but our staff provides daily groups to every child, so that students’ concerns are heard and positive influences occur. Students must take responsibility for their actions and help others by Positive Peering (giving good advice and support) to their classmates. These daily groups are called Guided Group Interaction (GGI). Negative behavior is confronted in a helpful manner. For instance, rather than saying, “You did something wrong,” a peer will say, “I’ll help you do it right.”
We have certain non-negotiable behaviors:
- Mandatory Attendance
- Our Norms
- No Staff or Program Bashing
- Participation is Required
- Raise Your Hand Before You Speak
- No Paybacks (revenge)
- No Interrupting
Behavior is rated Positive, Negative, or On the Line on a behavior spectrum every week. On the Line indicates that you have kept the Norms but have made no extra effort to be a positive influence with peers that week. Every week is a new chance to improve!
If a student maintains four straight weeks of positive behavior, he/she can become a Timberwolf, on the Randolph campus or a Pathfinder on the Hamburg campus. Following a pledge process, Timberwolves and Pathfinders enjoy special privileges such as a lounge where they can play games and watch TV in and bean bags chairs. They also take part in weekly activities designed just for them.
- Safety: Behaviors that ensure you and others around you are physically and emotionally safe.
- Respect: Placing the utmost value on a positive regard for the basic dignity, worth, rights and uniqueness of self, others, and the environment.
- Responsibility: Fulfilling your obligation to be accountable, trustworthy and rational — and promoting the same in others.
- Goal-Directed: Continually striving toward successful achievement of your potential and long-term positive outcomes.
- The Classroom is Sacred: The classroom provides an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Students must respect their teachers, classmates, and themselves.
Each team develops “individual safety and support plans” for each student upon entry, and reviews the plans after any significant incident. Every team also has two school counselors, a special education teacher, and a behavior intervention aide working together to provide behavior support for students.
For students experiencing an acute deterioration or regression which interferes with their classroom performance or the instruction of others, students are directed to an intensive behavior classroom. While there, students receive a full day of instruction and intensive intervention services, targeting necessary anger management, impulse control and decision-making skills.
It takes a lot of courage to be able to admit you did something wrong and talk to other people about how you should make it up to them.– Randolph Academy Student, age 18