COOL Classrooms: Students given opportunity to get both answers and behavior right
Teachers welcomed nearly 1,200 Extended Learning students back to school last Monday. A common goal for 74 educators is to get students’ scores in core subjects up to or beyond proficiency in just under five weeks.
Cathy Haller, prevention services coordinator for School District 51, said that this year’s summer session focuses strongly on individual learners. The district capped class size at 15 to enable teachers in six schools to provide more one-on-one attention. Haller said that teachers plan on keeping detailed data on each student’s progress and modifying instruction according to individual needs.
While educators invariably bring their own personalities to their classrooms, this time they must teach as one when it comes to curriculum. Students at Chipeta, Dos Rios, Pear Park and Shelledy all will crunch numbers from lessons found in a special summer school math program. Students at Bookcliff Middle School and Grand Mesa Middle School will read and analyze the same novel. High school students do not have school this summer.
Educators do, however, get to bring their own creativity to enrichment activities. BMS teachers Vivian Lybarger and Sutton Casey plan on bringing in a meditation expert and also building Zen gardens during the reading of “Zen and the art of faking it.”
As they improve academically, students will pursue another goal. In an environment that is less crowded and therefore easier to learn in, they will practice being COOL. COOL stands for caring, on task, own your behavior and listening and learning.
Although not every student requires extra help in learning school-appropriate behavior, the district estimates that 20% of its population does. According to a District 51 PowerPoint on COOL, problem behavior “exists in every school, varies in intensity, affects both teaching and learning and remains a concern for parents, staff and students.”
COOL expectations on behavior are spelled out for nearly every school setting, from the classroom to the school bus. COOL is a variation of the Positive Behavior Support system used in District 51 and many other schools nationwide during the regular school year. PBS emphasizes “catching students being good” and rewarding them for it.