Positivity Pays Off

At times, all of us need a bit of extrinsic motivation to accomplish the goals and behaviors that are set upon us for success.  At Hemlock Middle School, our PBIS team has been working very hard to ensure that our students have the opportunity to be rewarded for their successes and positive behavior.  One thing that we have implemented this year is a partnership with a reward system called LiveSchool.  Jeremy Stedry, middle school Math teacher and PBIS member, was fortunate to receive a grant that would assist us financially in implementing this program on a small scale.  Superintendent Killingbeck, seeing the potential of LiveSchool, was gracious enough to utilize funds in order to springboard the digital reward system across the entire middle school.  Mr. Stedry explains, “We have become somewhat of a beta test within the district to measure rewards and incentives to positive behavior.  To date, it has far exceeded our expectations.”  

Among the PBIS team, we have created a digital rubric and point system of both positive behaviors.  For example, if a teacher sees a student picking up a piece of trash in the hallway, even if they don’t teach that student, they can award them points via LiveSchool.  This is made seamless with LiveSchool available across all digital platforms.  Every adult in the middle school has an account, whether it be the teachers or the custodial staff.  Our rewards range from items such as four pencils for twenty points, to lunch with Principal Chase for 2000 points.  One of our most recent “hot ticket” incentives includes a VIP lunch reservation.  For 200 points, students are able to reserve a lunch table for a first-class dining experience.  This reward comes fully-equipped with table linens, serving ware and cutlery, and a “velvet rope” to boot.  It’s been such a fulfilling experience to not only see the students earn this particular reward, but also see staff come together to make this happen.  While the vision was created within the PBIS team, our middle school lunch crew has really made it come to life.  Food Service Director, Zach Bauer said “The Food Service Department is very excited to be teaming up with the Student Council and LiveSchool to be able to offer our students a VIP Dining Experience for themselves and seven of their friends. Not only do the kids love it, it is also helping us increase participation in the school lunch program. As part of the VIP Experience, the students are sat in a private dining area with silver charger plates, folded linen napkins, and even get escorted to the front of the lunch line. Just another way that the Hemlock School District takes the student experience to the next level.”  

 One of the most enticing features of LiveSchool that helps build a community dynamic is something called House Points.  When a student earns points, those points also continuously build up within a grade-level account, known as the House Points.  For example, our 8th grade House is currently sitting in second place with a combined point value of 28,131.  These points come into play at the end of the year, when grade level Houses are competing for the Hemlock Middle School Class Cup trophy.

There are so many benefits to this program that we have been able to observe to date.  The first being, parents who have activated their LiveSchool accounts receive a weekly report detailing their students' positive behaviors and data points.  Another benefit has been noticing the positive change in both climate and culture within the middle school.  Students are genuinely excited and motivated to earn reward points, which has made them slow down a bit and think about their actions and reactions around the school.  When students see trash that is not theirs, they are now picking it up.  When students see a lone basketball left in the gym at the end of lunch, they toss it in the ball return.  The positive incentives are helping shape them into members of a group who put thought and care into their school community.  At the end of the day, that’s really all any educator wants; to feel like they have impacted and inspired students to become contributing members within society.