Should we reward bad behavior? 

This is a very simple question, with a resounding answer of no.  However, a more complex question is: Should we be nice to students that commit bad behavior?  Should they be given nice gestures, even though they sometimes make bad judgment calls?  This is the educational equivalent of which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  Who should show respect, kindness, or generosity, first, the teacher or the student?

Educational scholars agree that bad student behavior is a symptom of a much larger problem.  As a group we understand that students are faced with many issues: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, missing parent(s), and poverty, etc.  Students use the bad behavior to mask the problems in their lives. Historically behavior is addressed in a punitive manner with very little concern for the root of the behavior.

When students don’t respond positively to this approach we begin an educational downward spiral.  It looks similar to this:

  • The student resists
  • Teacher becomes agitated
  • Student becomes more apathetic
  • Teacher writes student up
  • Student spends a day out of class for ALC
  • Student is now a day behind and more apathetic
  • Teacher’s anxiety is going high because she’s held accountable for student’s success
  • Student becomes more agitated and completely refuses to work and he/she becomes disruptive to the class
  • Because of the disruption the teacher is not able to adequately instruct the other students.
  • The class productivity goes down/teacher’s stress and anxiety reaches an even higher level.
  • Student is sent to ALC for three days and will never catch up, because he/she couldn’t careless about the class or teacher

Beginning in January of 2018, Lewisburg Middle School decided to try an experiment to help answer those problems.  The administration began picking one teacher each week to nominate four students from their class to have a sit down meal with on Fridays.  The students were chosen simply because they were Lewisburg Patriots, no other reason.

Each Thursday the students were personally invited by the school administration and told which teacher nominated them.  On Friday, the students were given Chick Fil A and each student and the teacher were served their meal by the administrator.

During the meal the students were asked simple questions: What was your high moment and low moment for the week?  What do you want to be when you grow up? What is one thing you would change if you could be Principal for a day?  These questions were meant to provoke conversation and build relationships between staff and students.  This was a time of acceptance and friendship, not chastisement or discipline.

The teacher and administration began to see a different side of each student.  The inviting atmosphere allowed the students to let their guard down. One student admitted that their bedroom had so many leaks in it that the sheetrock was falling of the wall. Another student shared with the teacher that this was the first time he had ever eaten Chick Fil A because it is too expensive for his parents to afford.  I have to admit that the next week he ate his second Chick Fil A sandwich ever!

One hundred and fifty students were able to participate in this experiment of kindness.  In almost every case the student’s attendance went up, their discipline went down, and their class performance went up.  The students were able to connect with their teacher in a way they never had before.  They had an advocate in the building they felt comfortable with.

The educational environment is rigid and stressful.  Expectations are at an all time high for both student and teacher.  Convincing students to perform at their best is paramount. Wouldn’t it be awesome if students looked forward to working hard for the teacher?  The results of this year long experiment proves that building a positive relationship with students will encourage students to take pride in their work. Once the students begin to take pride in their work the teacher’s stress will go down.  The teacher’s morale will go up and then they will become a more effective teacher.

I believe the answer to our initial question is that the teacher should be the first to show respect, kindness, and generosity.  I have had an awesome time over the past year proving it.  I have gotten to know and understand the students at Lewisburg Middle School on a much more in depth level.  I have also become more understanding of the stresses and struggles the teachers have to live with on a daily basis.

(I would like to recognize BankPlus of Olive Branch and B and H Insurance of Hernando for financially supporting this experiment. I would also like to thank the teachers at Lewisburg Middle School for embracing this “new” way of addressing student issues.)

 

Shane Wigley

Assistant Principal

Lewisburg Middle School

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Creating a Growth Mindset

 

 

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Research shows that successful learning outcomes happen when children believe that intelligence grows with effort. While helpful in all subjects, this idea is especially powerful in math class, due to the prevalent belief in society that people are either good or bad at math. If one cannot solve a difficult math problem quickly, then one is not a “math person.” Research suggests that adopting this belief can actually make it come true. This idea that, by believing in it, people may actually be at risk of confirming a negative stereotype is called stereotype threat. Those who successfully combat the stereotype are often those who refuse to identify with it in the first place. In other words, simply by stating “I am a math person,” a child is more likely to perform like a “math person.”

Mathematics is an intrinsic part of a young child’s natural environment. Math learning develops naturally when children are enthusiastic and curious about their environment. Using the following mathematical mindset strategies, parents and teachers can help motivate children to be successful and confident in math.

How can teachers help?

To encourage a mathematical mindset, teachers need to provide children with an opportunity to discover mathematics on their own before the teacher introduces strategies and methods. This develops a child’s intuitive number sense and problem solving abilities. Teachers can also ask children for multiple strategies to solving real world example problems. Teachers can encourage children to discuss the strategies they used and compare the different approaches they tried. This ability to explain one’s work and reason through to a solution is a skill that will serve children greatly as they grow up and enter the work force, as well. Mathematicians often propose theories and need to justify the logical steps to their ideas.

How can parents help?

Parents can also encourage a mathematical mindset in their children with some simple activities. Parents should always be encouraging and excited about math. Provide kids with lots of math puzzles and games to develop solid number sense. Focus on a child’s persistence in problem solving and never associate math success with speed. This should minimize math anxiety. To avoid stereotype threat, parents should never say things like, “Oh, I’m just not good at math.” Instead, encourage a growth mindset by letting children know that math is all about hard work. Use growth praise like, “Fantastic problem solving!” or “Great job! You worked so hard on that!”

Remember, mathematical learning grows naturally when children are enthusiastic and curious about their environment. Keep the learning fun and make the growth mindset a part of children’s everyday routines.

 

Source: https://minds-in-bloom.com/encouraging-growth-mindset-mathematics/

Mrs. Barker – 7th Grade Math

Holocaust Unit

What do an old-maid watchmaker turned leader in the Dutch Underground, a teenager’s account of daily terrors of survival, a four year old’s perfectly timed illness, and a fifteen year old girl who documented life experiences in her writings and art all have in common? Each of these different perspectives and individuals’ lives was impacted by the Nazi invasion during a historical period called the Holocaust.

Students in eighth grade AP English classes read novels from these perspectives and made presentations to teach their classmates about their novel.  Presentations included acting out pivoting chapters or presenting the plot diagram through PowerPoint. It started with a book tasting where they could read the first few pages of each novel and select their top 3. Then, each literature group spent the next four weeks discussing and analyzing the plot, conflict, character development and the effects of figurative language.

 

The books referenced are The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, Night by Elie Wiesel, The Survivor’s Club by Michael Bornstein, and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys.

Mrs. Sharp – 8th Grade ELA

LMS Choir

The LMS Choir has been hard at work for the Christmas season. We came together as a group and decided we wanted to find ways to spread more Christmas cheer and joy this year. A couple of the ways we did that were with an outreach project to four nursing homes and a Solo Dessert Christmas Celebration.

 

The students all expressed positive feedback about our outreach to four nursing homes in our community.

We started at Silver Creek because it is a spacious and inviting building where most of the residents are independent. The children can get a good warm-up and become comfortable with the process. We have selected students who act as ambassadors for us. They come in with me and while I set us up, the ambassadors talk to the residents and wish them a happy holiday season.

From there we went to Wesley Meadows in Hernando, MS. This was our first time to go there. I become aware of a new area they had built and while I was there with my church choir, I became aware it was spacious enough to hold us. The residents were delightful and so responsive. We loved this place and we will definitely return.

Hermitage Garden and DeSoto Health Center were the last to homes visited. I was able to visit with a resident in Hermitage Garden who was a teacher in DeSoto County Schools. We taught together at CHES for the eight years I was there. It was an awesome experience for me to share the choir with her specifically. The children really feel the love and joy of sharing at DeSoto Health Center where many of the residents are bed ridden and in need of consistent nursing attention. This is always everyone’s favorite place to share the Christmas Spirit.

 

Our Solo Dessert Christmas Celebration was an opportunity for LMS students to attend a Christmas social where choir students sang Christmas songs as solos in the cafeteria and our parents served Ice-cream Sundays. There were several sing along songs and many students jumped up to do dances. The Christmas break was set into motion and surely will spread throughout our community. Over 250 students attended and choir students grew a little as they braved the fears of singing infant of their peers.

 

 

Merry Christmas

Christian Feazell

LMS Choir

 

Students Who Care

After a class discussion on D-Day, several of our 8th grade students were very moved at the sacrifices our armed services make. They began to research and found the Wounded Warrior Project. They started a fundraiser to give back and show our appreciation to all of the soldiers that have fought for us. The students at LMS stepped up to the plate. The students were allowed to pay $3 for a song of their choice to be played at lunch. There was $1/ticket raffle and pajama/hat day for $1 each. On the last day of the fundraiser, we hosted a dodgeball tournament where students could pay to play or watch. Before the dodgeball tournament, the 8th grade had an assembly where Captain Keith Pate spoke with us about his personal story and how Wounded Warrior Project has helped him. It was great to see our students coming together and raising money for such a great cause.

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By: Amanda Western – 8th Math

Mix-It-Up Lunch and School Literacy

The theme and goal of our Mix-It-Up Lunch is school literacy. Each of our groups is being challenged to read 40 books with varying genres, by the next Mix-It-Up Lunch in February. LMS wants to encourage and motivate students to read. Because students will be reading books with varying genres, it is our hope to foster a love for reading and helping students discover they may love many different kinds of book.

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“Family Challenge”

As part of our yearlong anti-bullying program, we are asking families to read “Wonder” by P.J. Palacio together over December and January. There is a link to the audiobook on our schools webpage.

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Ms. Laxton – Librarian

Access and Achievement for All

At LMS, we know that EVERY student can learn, and our students with hearing loss are no exception! Did you know that the DeSoto County Schools program for deaf and hard of hearing students is housed on the Lewisburg campus? It is based here, in each of our four Lewisburg schools, serving preschool through 12th grade students. There are 70 students, each with some degree of hearing loss being served within each of our Lewisburg schools. These students are met with the same expectations and opportunities as students without hearing loss each day, and serve as leaders in a variety of ways on our campus. At LMS, we have deaf/hard of hearing students actively involved on the football team, colorguard team, band, and in advanced placement classes, as well as participating in many other school organizations and activities.

Students with hearing loss are provided a range of services and technology to assist them in accessing education like their peers. For our students using American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, there are sign language interpreters at each of our four Lewisburg schools. A sign language club at Lewisburg Elementary has provided access to ASL for hearing students, so that many students at Lewisburg schools are able to communicate and socialize with our signing students.

There is a Deaf Education teacher at each of the four Lewisburg schools. Deaf students process information differently, and therefore learn differently than hearing students. The use of senses to access language and the world around them differs between hearing and non-hearing students, so deaf and hard of hearing students often need different levels of support to access education.

Two educational audiologists also work with these students to oversee a variety of personal amplification used daily, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids. Many of these students use FM systems provided by DCS to deliver the teacher’s voice directly to their personal devices. A variety of technology is also used to give our deaf and hard of hearing students access to technology such as iPads and computer classes by delivering sound directly to their personal devices, since the students cannot wear headphones directly over hearing aids or implants. In addition, our schools have 46 portable soundfields and 26 soundfields installed in the ceilings at the schools, which amplify the teacher’s voice and give the students greater access to instruction.

Kindness, high expectations, patience and willingness to try new things goes a long way toward making sure deaf and hard of hearing students are included and growing in their education, and our students are provided with each of these and more at LMS!

 

Allie Thomas

Deaf Education Teacher

Book Tasting

8th Grade ELA has been studying the Holocaust unit during second nine weeks.  We began by reading articles on the history of WWII and the Nazi Party to establish background information.

Most of the students are currently reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  All of the students read the drama The Diary of Anne Frank. Advanced classes are getting different perspectives by reading books from different points of view as well.

To kick off our unit, we held a Book Tasting so the students could decide for themselves the point of view that most interested them.  Our restaurant was named Muddy’s (after Muddy Waters).  Students listened to music from Muddy Waters while enjoying the first 20 pages of 4 books along with some light snacks and punch. Students rated the books from 1 to 4. Based on the ratings, students were grouped accordingly.  The book choices were:

Night by Elie Weisel

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Survivior’s Club by Michael Bronstein

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septeys

Students are also responding to journal prompts on a daily basis to make connections with the characters in our novel.

One of the most powerful things students will do this nine weeks is read the book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Students will design a butterfly based on one of the poems from the book and share with the class.  Butterflies will be posted on the classroom walls, and at the end of the nine weeks, authors who survived the camp will be revealed.

For the final project, students will write a book review on their chosen book and share with the rest of the class so that all students learn of the different perspectives of the Holocaust.

 

By: Melody Smith

Wow! This year is flying by….

One new and exciting thing LMS 8th graders were able to experience recently was the Career Expo at the Landers Center. This was a hands-on event where students (and teachers) got to see jobs that are available in our community and it is amazing how many things out there that we just don’t think about doing!  We think construction worker…build houses, buildings, and roads.  There is so much more that goes into it like testing the soil to make sure the correct concrete is poured to avoid breakage and how engineers have to design the area for the correct drainage to avoid flooding and destruction.

 

The 8th graders also ventured off to the Cannon Center in Memphis to watch a variety of plays that they had read in English classes.  Students were able to connect and visualize the reading with the play.  Fun was had by all who attended!!

 

In History classes we have been discussing how America became America. We just declared our independence last week and are now in the middle of fighting in the Revolutionary War!

OH MY!!!  Hopefully students will learn to appreciate where we came from and how and why we have certain rights and privileges.

 

Thanksgiving break is coming soon! Enjoy the time off and the fellowship with friends and family!!!

 

Mrs. Coker (7th and 8th grade History)

Blessings

Thirty-seven Blessings

For being the Best Middle School in Mississippi,

For students, well behaved, teachable and grateful,

For Mr. Meadows, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Wigley,

And for teaching middle schoolers which is never dull.

… I am THANKFUL.

For building relationships and students smiling,

For Counselors, PTO and Parents who make our school shines,

For calling students by name and high fiveing,

And for Mrs. Tracie, Shuttleworth, Wardlaw, Henderson and Nurse Rhines.

… I am THANKFUL.

For car rider line when it’s freezing and raining,

For behavior problems and too much paperwork,

For constantly repeating and excessive explaining,

And for when I lose patience and may act like a jerk.

… I am NOT THANKFUL.

For the Cafeteria Ladies and Ms. Janette,

For Teachers working as family who sacrifice a ton,

For Ms. Alma and Mr. David who haven’t stopped yet,

And for the BEST middle school in Mississippi that’s number ONE.

… I am THANKFUL.

 

For lame excuses, lack of effort, and low test scores,

For students who do not try and students who are not eager,

For rubbish in the halls and refuse scattered on the floors,

And for disposable income that is way too meager.

… I am NOT THANKFUL.

For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and especially Spring Break,

For terrific Teacher Assistances and Bus Drivers- both are SUPERIOR,

For the Library, Dances and the Coaches for Heaven’s sake,

And for Chicken Tenders day in the cafeteria.

… I am THANKFUL.

For former students saying, “They got a great foundation,”

For students performing their best, knowing it’s a long haul,

Let me mention again the amazing Administration,

And for my Co-workers in SPED without naming them all.

… I am THANKFUL.

Sincerely,

David Byrd