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Washington Middle School

Grade Level
Middle School

Improving school culture.

When Washington Middle School began implementing PBIS in their building in 2014, staff knew it was a good step forward towards an improved school culture. Now, as the team reflects on the journey they’ve been on, they recognize that their implementation has provided many additional benefits.

A big part of Washington Middle School’s success involved the learners themselves. Because the staff made a deliberate decision to encourage achievement by referring to all students as scholars, the scholars developed pride in themselves and began to understand what school means to them. The leadership team surveyed students to collect some baseline feedback from them.

Common language

To create changes to the system, Washington Middle School put together an inclusive team of teacher leaders, administration, and student services personnel to lead a systematic effort to create consistent expectations and common language. The goal was to establish a safe and supportive environment for all. Throughout this process, the team established regular, open communication with students and families.

As school culture blossomed, teacher leaders began to use the same systemic processes to look at other content areas, like reading and mathematics. Teams reviewed data and examined standards to create learning targets. Teachers empowered students to take a more active role in their learning by communicating goals and introducing student data tracking. “The students just took their own learning into their own hands,” Intervention Specialist Erin George said. “It was really neat to see.”

Owning it

The leadership team responded to scholars’ ownership in their learning by incorporating programs throughout the day to affirm their goals, review their own data, identify how they could improve their own work, and what impact those improvements would have on their goals.

This work wouldn’t be possible without staff who are dedicated to advocating for students. “Our kids don’t need average,” Principal Shane Gayle said. “Our kids deserve the best, because some already have obstacles to overcome and we need someone who’s going to do everything that they can to be informed about the life of the child, because it’s really about them, that’s what drives our work here.”