OHS Implements Social Skills Curriculum
Over the course of the past year all of USD 290’s schools have been working on developing a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) for our students who struggle with behavior and understanding social norms. We have seen a dramatic increase in our population of students who need behavioral intervention for the past few years and with the incredible success of our MTSS reading program we decided as a district to move forward in developing a similar program to impact our students with behavioral problems.
The MTSS Behavior program has numerous facets, all of which would take a number of weeks to explain here. Therefore, I would like to focus on a particular branch that will help all of our students understand and learn appropriate social skills. Ottawa High School and Ottawa Middle School have partnered to develop a website through Connect With Kids to provide our students, parents, staff, and our community access to a number of lessons addressing appropriate social skills as well as helping our parents understand why our students act the way they do at times.
Beginning this Friday, OHS will begin incorporating a 30 minute social skills lesson into our day at least twice a quarter. Each teacher will be providing the lesson which will focus on appropriate social skills taught through a video followed by class discussion with regard to the nature of that lesson. The website provides resources on Attendance and Achievement, Bullying and Violence Prevention, Character and Life Skills, College and Career Readiness, Digital Citizenship, Drug and Alcohol Prevention, Health and Wellness, and Culturally Relevant Education. Each area offers a selection from over a hundred videos and provides our staff with the resources that they need to teach the lesson and ask appropriate discussion questions to get the greatest understanding from our students.
Ottawa High School has changed a number of its behavioral programs to help students stay in school while working to help change behaviors that may be taking that opportunity away. We have added an “alternative program” providing a different setting and academic program for our students whose behavior may be taking away from their learning as well as that of our other students. We also developed a behavior matrix that is has helped our students understand appropriate behavior in the classroom, hallway, buses, lunch room, etc. etc. This matrix is discussed with our students consistently as we set expectations in these areas. We have also provided more community service programs for our students to be implemented in place of out of school suspensions in an effort to keep them in school as well as help them understand the importance of appropriate behaviors.
We invite everyone to go to usd290.connectwithkids.com and take a look at this site and what it has to offer. You will be prompted to login and can do so by creating your own password and using OTTAWA290 as the Organization Code. This program is something that we feel strongly about. We believe that this curriculum, when implemented appropriately, coupled with the other changes we have made to prevent inappropriate behaviors, will have an impact upon our school that is both positive and dramatic.
Dr. Ryan Cobbs