School Discipline Program Success Stories

The playground fight began as many do, with a disagreement over whether a ball was in or out.The scuffle escalated into name-calling and pushing between two fourth-graders at Madison's Emerson Elementary School.

A couple of years ago, the students likely would have been suspended. But under a new approach to discipline being tried in the district, the students instead were given the option of coming up with a fix-it plan -- something more than just saying, "I'm sorry."

The students chose to spend all of their recesses over the next two days playing catch with a football, just the two of them."They came back and reported that they did much better playing together, and that was the end of it," said school social worker Mike Behlke.The new approach is based on creating an "above-the-line classroom," a model by national school consultant Corwin Kronenberg that sets well-defined expectations, then rewards students whose behavior is above the line and requires fix-it plans from those who slip below.

Emerson students who misbehave are asked, "Do you want a fix it' or a consequence?" About 99 percent choose a fix-it plan, which they must come up with themselves.
More on .........Above-the-line Discipline

Peaceful Playgrounds is another alternative to consider for the school yard blues. Disagreements are settled, not with loud arguments, but with constructive talk and sometimes “rock, paper, scissors.” This is Peaceful Playground at work.

The Peaceful Playground program encompasses all school personnel. Teachers, students, and lunch supervisors were all trained in the five components of Peaceful Playground: consistent set of rules, solutions to conflicts, game markings, appropriate use and care of equipment, and consistent expectations.

The Peaceful Playground concept was initially presented to the PTO and staff by Maureen Borowski, physical education teacher at Field Elementary School in Park Ridge, IL to support the Civil Behavior school improvement goal.

According to Borowski, "I have not had to settle one playground conflict this year. I attribute this to our Peaceful Playground."

Students are learning to take ownership of problem solving. They love this program. They have even written about it during an all school writing activity,” said Anne Ham, fifth grade teacher.

“When Mrs. Creely, our principal, presented the writing samples at a PTO meeting, many parents noticed the vast number of positive comments regarding the Peaceful Playground. That says a lot about the success of the program.” To learn more about the Peaceful Playgrounds Program at Field Elementary School.....