The Tribe Times

New behavior system misinterpreted, students question effectiveness

Staff Editorial

Photo by Samantha Swensen

Photo by Samantha Swensen

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In every school, it can be hard for students to focus when there isn’t a way to handle distractions in the classroom setting. When a behavior matrix is implemented, however, and proven ineffective, it exists as exactly the thing that is distracting the students.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016, Smithville High School introduced a new behavior matrix to its faculty, who then introduced the new matrix to the students the following day, Thursday, November 3rd.

Behavior matrixes, or systems, are set to ensure that the behavior seen in the classroom setting will provide an educational environment to the students with minimum interruptions. In theory, these additions to the behavior rules would be positive by leading to better focus and giving students their best chance in the classroom.

One of the focal points to our new behavior system is a “strike system”. A strike is an offense that a student can commit, such as using their phone in class, talking while the teacher is teaching, etc. The purpose is to limit the behaviors, as well as to give the teacher a way to keep track of the number of times a student commits an offense, sending them to the office after reaching three strikes. This is meant to limit the number of distractions in the classroom.

The new system has every potential to gain a positive result. As it currently stands, however, the matrix is not being implemented effectively.

The Tribe Times staff believes there are a few different reasons for this. The first, and most prominent, is the misinterpretation of this new system by the teachers enforcing it.

There are the teachers who are adamant about using it but do so in different ways – for instance, some will give their students warnings each time they gain a strike, whereas others have been known to punish the class as a whole due to the offensive actions of one student. There are even some teachers who don’t implement the system at all; some have never even mentioned anything about it to their classes.

We agreed that it is not the teachers’ fault for the varying implementations of this new behavior matrix. We feel that the teachers were not 100 percent clear on what was expected, and as a result have misinterpreted the new behavior system, making it a different experience in each classroom.

In order to effectively implement this new system in the same manner, as it was meant to be, it would be best for whomever created the system – or even a group of students, organized to completely understand the system in a way that they can teach it to others – to go around to the classes throughout the school day and give a short presentation on what the new system will entail, and what will be expected of both the teachers and students.

If this presentation were to be given, it would be best to aim for a time when the students were not as likely to be unfocused (such as first hour, when they would still be tired as it is early in the morning, or last hour, after they’ve endured a day of classes and lectures), and decided that a 3A or 2A block, or something of the like, would have the best results in the aspect of attention-spans.

There were some points to the new behavior matrix that brought up confusion as well; namely, laughing. To some teachers, laughter counts as a strike, whereas others aren’t bothered by it at all. This ties back into every educator understanding the system differently; in any case, areas like that should be better explained.

When going over the matrix, people were also confused on the restart time of the strikes – no one could say exactly when they were meant to restart, as this was another area in which the teachers who actually implemented the new system had different stances on. Naturally, this is an issue, because students could become more fixated on the number of strikes they have than the materials they are supposed to be learning, giving the system an effect opposite of what it had been created to give.

The idea of having the strikes restart once at the beginning of each month was suggested. This would give the teachers a way to keep track of the strikes that they gave out, and more importantly, it would keep the system consistent. Consistency is key; it would make it easier for the students to understand the system, and it would make it easier for teachers to not forget about their strikes.

Overall, we do believe that this new system is a step in the right direction. If used well, this could have positive results in the classroom setting. In its current state of misinterpretation, however, it is not having the effect it was meant to, and is more debilitating than it is helpful.

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