Local School Reinforces Students
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Positive reinforcement has been a part of the class room as a way to encourage students to behave, work hard, and succeed.
And Westwood Middle School is taking positive-- and negative reinforcement-- to a whole new level.
The students at the school are involved in Alachua County's "Positive Behavioral Strategy" program; also known as PBS.
But unlike other schools that only do this once a year, Westwood hosts PBS events every 15 days.
"I like it a lot… it's fun. We get to do different activities," said 13-year-old Sydney Peterson.
Peterson is in the seventh grade.
She has attended every "Positive Behavioral Strategy" event Westwood Middle School has hosted this school year.
"It encourages us to be good and get to class on time and do all our work," she said.
Westwood Middle took the PBS program a step further this school year when they started to reward the well behaved students more frequently.
Instead of having one event at the end of the year, the students get to participate in outdoor activities, movie days, and trips every 15 days.
"If they are on time to class, if they do not have any referrals, of if they don't have stuff like dress code, they are able to do something fun for a couple of periods," said teacher Valeri Pandak.
Administration at the school says the hallways have never been emptier.
But just like at any other school, not every student behaves 100 percent of the time.
"We've run into issues with kids who don't adhere to this, that we go ahead and they have to stay back in a classroom," said Pandak.
Those students are referred to as "stay-backs."
But since the PBS events started at the beginning of the school year, the number of students staying in classrooms during events has dropped.
"The goal is to have no stay-backs. Because we want them to enjoy themselves, we want to reward those kids with good behavior," added Pandak.
And for the first time the "stay-backs" got a different kind of reinforcement.
"We came up with an idea where we can have the stay-backs have some role models come in from the community that will talk to them about goal setting, teamwork, and how it affects their decision making," Pandak says.
Members from Gainesville Police Department's SWAT Team were the first to come speak to the students.
"If they take at least one positive statement we make and make a change based on that, then that's worth it," said John Pandak from GPD's SWAT Team.
And after listening to what some of the members from the SWAT team had to say, one student says he doesn't want to be a "stay-back" anymore.
"I know I can do better and do things that I shouldn't do next time so can go to the PBS," says seventh-grader, David Fair.
Administration at Westwood plans to continue to bring in members of the community to speak to the students.
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