Saturday, September 26, 2015

And Just What the Heck is ISS Anyway?

I'm really grateful for the following comment from Lisa in Germany (Oh my gosh!)

"Dear Mrs Bluebird,

maybe this is only interesting to me because I'm not from the US, but how does your ISS system work? Who sends students for what and for how long and what do they have to do to go back? Is there a protocol for repeating offenders?"

Suffice it to say, how ISS works in my building may not be the same as any other building in my district, my state or even within the entire United it's just one example.  But I'l try to explain our system at The School.

About 5-6 years ago, we partnered with Vanderbilt University and devised something called School Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) which is a system that encourages kids to do the right thing.  We had a lot of kids out of class because they were being suspended, and a lot of disruptive kids who made it nearly impossible to teach.  We have a pretty challenging population.  In any case, we pitched our old system of discipline referrals and implemented SWPBS.  The cool thing was that it was developed specifically for our building and our population so it's tailor made.  And it has really worked.

Kids start every nine week grading period with a clean slate.  We have a behavior matrix that tells kids how to be Respectful, Responsible, and Engaged in all the areas of school - the bus, the hallway, the cafeteria, the gym, and especially in the classroom.  Every year we teach the system to the kids, and we review it again every January.  Kids who do the right thing get rewarded with a school currency which they can use in the school store, or put into a drawing for a price.  (We've given away donated tickets to paintball as well as an NFL game so far this year).  They also get a reward party at the end of the grading period.

As for the kids who don't behave.  The teacher can issue a Classroom Intervention Referral for behaviors that are unacceptable.  This also involves contact with a parent (that can be the challenging part since we get so many disconnected or bad phone numbers.)  A copy of the CIR goes to Guidance, is input into a database system and every evening we get a report on how many CIR's a kid has earned in this grading period.  If a kid does something and it will be his/her fourth CIR, that gets bumped up to Administrative Discipline Referral.  And that means it goes to an Administrator.  The Administrator calls the kid in for a session and they have the option (within guidelines from the School Board and District Code of Conduct) to hand out the consequences.  It can be a counseling and warning session, a day or two of after school detention, or In School Suspension (which is me), or even suspension.  Parent contact occurs in all these situations.  (Or attempted parent contact.  See my comment about bad phone numbers above.)

If a kid ends up in ISS with me, the stay can be anywhere from one to four days (or longer, we've just haven't had anyone past four days this year.)  Most kids seem to land in my room for 2-3 days. ISS is, for some of them, the best study hall they'll ever have because it gives them a chance to get caught up on work (most kids in ISS also have academic issues) in a quiet place with help (from me or my aide).  In order to get released they need to complete all their assignments and behave.  It's actually pretty simple.

I have had my share of repeat offenders and some of them are about to find themselves in something we call BSA, or Behavior Support Academy.  Coach Math handles this unit and whereas I'm sort of the School Momma type, he's the stern, disapproving School Dad type.  It's a totally different experience.  It's our version of alternative school; the kids wear a uniform of white shirt and tan pants, are isolated from the student population, do chores and cleanup around school (weed the flower beds, sweep the cafeteria, package and distribute donations for our food program, and more).  They also get a counseling session every afternoon after lunch. (My kids eat lunch with this group and also get in on the counseling if the numbers aren't too big - the idea is to stop the behaviors that get them in ISS and BSA.)   Kids are assigned to BSA for a 30 day period of time.  Once they complete that time, they do an exit session, and then are released back to their regular classes under a 25 point contract.  If they screw up and earn 25 discipline points, the next step is Alternative School run by the district downtown.  

So that's where it stands at The School.  

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Dear Mrs. Bluebird,

I was hoping for a quick response and really surprised so read an extra blog post about my question! Thank you so much for taking the time and explaining you system. It sounds like a good plan. During my job training in a secondary school (I only worked in elementary school since then)I saw a system that was a little similar. It was called a "training room" or "Arizona room" and seemed to be copied from an US program. You could send misbehaving students to a room, but the problem was that there was not one teacher/social worker assigned to this room. Sometimes there was a teacher and sometimes there wasn't and even with a schedule you had students who you had sent to the room coming back and telling you, that no one was there. So it wasn't very effective. I think there was just not a lot of funding for the program.

I have read your blog for many years (maybe 4 or 5) and am very happy that you started posting again more often! Thank you it's always very interesting how school works in other parts of the world!