Taking a Positive Approach to School Behavior

Every day students around the world enter schools where their learning is facilitated by a small number of adults. In Florida, there are 2.7 million students who attend school in one of Florida’s 67 regular school districts or 7 special districts. Many schools may have 50 – 60 adults on campus tasked with the responsibility of maintaining order of a student body of 800 or more students. The manner in which behavior is managed may have a positive or negative effect on the school’s culture.

Mr. Michael Sears has been Principal at
Jewett School of the Arts for 4 1/2 years


Michael Sears, Principal of Jewett School of the Arts in Winter Haven, Florida, is an advocate for positive reinforcement and he has integrated a behavior management system that monitors negative behaviors through a JAC Card and rewards positive behavior with Jag Bucks. You can hear more about this system in the interview with Mr. Sears.

Check out the interview here:

Positive reinforcement is a manner in which those in charge will offer a reward or acknowledgement for doing the right thing. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as saying “Good Job!”, offering a token that can be used later, or giving a piece of candy for a job well-done. In education, these rewards can be given to students for doing the right thing like turning in homework on time, helping other students, or just behaving properly. By rewarding proper behavior a positive culture is created where students are focused on correct behavior and actions. This motivation will guide the students toward positive behavior with creating a culture based on punishment.

The goal of a school is to create an environment that is safe and conducive to the learning process. Managing behavior through methods based on fear and punishment runs counter to what education should be. However, relying on a single method of management does not always work. School is filled with children who make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes can be avoided by teaching and reward students who behave properly, but there are those times where punishment has to be levied when warranted.

Creating a balance is important when managing the behavior of students. Before the students can learn they must first want to be at the school. A child who does not want to come to school out of fear will not be able to learn effectively. The manner in which a school manages student behavior creates a culture and school leaders need to choose if they want to build a culture of fear or positivity.

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