Always seeking ways to motivate and encourage students, Eagle Ranch School recently took a longstanding practice of student management and turned it upside down. Rather than keeping track of shortcomings, the school developed a way to track positive habits instead. One of this year’s graduates, Ian, greatly benefited from this system.
For years, the school emphasized student accountability by keeping track of “infractions,” which are times when students fail to meet expectations, such as not turning in homework, being disrespectful to others, talking in class and other missteps. These infractions were tracked on a whiteboard that students could check throughout the day. The school began teaching a new system for developing positive habits, called Habits of Mind. They wanted to see what would happen if, instead of tracking infractions, they tracked positive actions.
Every month, Eagle Ranch School would focus on a different habit and how that habit could be implemented into the students’ daily lives. Habits ranged from persistence to striving for accuracy. When a student went above and beyond to exemplify this habit, he or she was rewarded with a sticker on a laminated nametag, displayed on the whiteboard in the center of the school.
The new system showed that most students were more motivated to meet expectations, and even exceed them, when they saw the positive recognition. At the end of the school year, students who excelled in each area were awarded and celebrated for their achievements.
One student in particular, Ian, was a top performer, earning him the “Character Award.”
“Ian struggled when he first came to Eagle Ranch. It seemed he had a fear of failure. He refused to go to class or to do his work,” said Kim Burdette, Operations Manager at Eagle Ranch School. “Over time, Ian began applying himself and eventually became a straight-A student.”
The visual tracking of his success helped Ian become more confident.
“I used to not like school. Since I’ve been here, I’ve stopped refusing to go to class. I enjoy the school, field trips and exploratory classes. I have straight-A’s in all my classes,” said Ian. “Now going home there is a lot less fighting. It’s more hanging out, having fun. It’s definitely better at home, a lot better.”
Now Eagle Ranch graduate Ian and his family have the tools they need to succeed as they transition back into life at home.