By Pixie Sulser
Expectations are high at Ramona Community School, both in the classroom and out.
Ramona Community School’s Montessori Academy started its school year with campus safety education at the forefront of its back-to-school welcome.
“Our Montessori Academy is part of a county cadre of institutions participating in BEST Schools (Building Effective Schools Together),” said RCS Principal Carol Tennebaum. “The focus of the three year involvement is to build a system of positive behavior support and early intervention for behavior issues.”
RCS formed a BEST leadership team to explore and develop plans that would benefit the school. Tennebaum explained that the team developed specific expectations for each area of the campus.
“We then created lesson plan templates to explicitly teach those expectations to our students,” she said.
Once the expectations were established and the plans created, the challenge was to find a way to present the information to each student in a consistent manner. As a way to be sure and reach everyone, the team created the first annual Expectations Expo.
Tennebaum explained that on the first Wednesday morning of the school year, after the schoolwide flag gathering, every Montessori class rotated through nine stations located at various spots around campus.
“At each station the students spent 10 minutes learning about and role playing the expected behavior expectations for that particular area,” she said.
The stations were led by staff members who work in each specific area.
“For example,” said Tennebaum, “the playground rules and expectations were led by one of our campus supervisors and the behavior expectations for the library were led by the librarian.”
Each teacher has a copy of the Expectations Expo lessons and throughout the year is expected to revisit the nine areas on campus, reiterating the expectations. Additionally, a new Anti-Bullying Policy was included in the first day packet received by all students. The policy was signed by every student and every parent before being returned to the teacher.
All teachers and support staff members also signed the policy in a show of solidarity against the bullying of any student.
Tennebaum describes the Expectations Expo as a “very positive experience. We are keeping this as a running theme at our school with students receiving continual reminders of expectations for specific areas. A positive and safe school climate is dependent upon establishing expectations and consistently reteaching those expectations. The Expo was a one-day event, but the event’s message is ongoing.”
The school’s mantra, “Be Responsible, Be Caring, Be Safe,” reinforces the schoolwide commitment and keeps everyone on the same page, Tennebaum said.
“When we have to speak with a student about behavior, we ask, ‘Was it responsible? Was it caring? Was it safe?’ When expectations are clear and consistent, it builds confidence and creates a happier, safer campus.”