Amy Blackledge

East Jackson Elementary School
Jackson, Michigan

Best Practices

1) Whole Child Initiatives: Supporting the whole child through PBIS and SEL have been successful for us at East Jackson Elementary (EJE). Class Catalyst is used as a daily check-in for all students in the building. This check-in allows teachers to see who is ready to learn and how they are feeling that morning. Older students may even send a private message to their teachers who can respond to that message. Students who might be struggling with a situation and whose check-in reveals a need will be seen by one of our school social workers. We also incorporate the Caring School Community social emotional curriculum. Students participate in lessons and daily circles, and there is a calming corner in each classroom for student use. These lessons and activities teach students important coping strategies and skills to deal with strong emotions and feelings. Our PBIS program uses the CHAMPS approach to teaching classroom and school expectations. Those expectations are practiced and rewarded through  wristband winners, tickets to place in drawings, book vending machine tokens, and reward incentive activities and field trips. All of the above Tier I activities are provided to all students in the building. Tier II and Tier II interventions are put in place based on data collected through behavior logs, classroom observations, etc.

2) Teacher and Staff Development: Teacher and staff development are important practices that we strive to incorporate each school year. Professional development days are used to provide staff with opportunities to understand curriculum, gain more knowledge in specific areas, and improve their craft. In the past couple of school years, our building has focused on implementing Lucy Calkins reading and writing curriculum for grades K-6 to be sure we have a cohesive and continuous curriculum including language used with students as they move from one grade to the next. We have been lucky enough to have a literacy coach who has met with teachers to team teach lessons, model lessons, and then debrief and strategize on the best way to move forward. Time is spent during our school improvement team meetings to review data, develop focus areas, and continue to improve reading and writing instruction.

Math is also an area of focus in our building. We have supported teachers in attending professional development at our local ISD, had ISD support in our building to model best practices, and have our department chair support teachers with modeling and team teaching in the classroom. We are currently working on plans for the remainder of this year and moving forward to incorporate more math professional development opportunities.

Support staff are also an important part of professional learning. They join us on days that we learn, practice, and review for school safety drills and procedures. We also provide support staff with professional development in the area of recess support through a partnership with Playworks. A Playworks educator comes to our building one week each month to teach students recess games and procedures, and this also includes teaching our staff those same skills so that they can be used on the playground for safe, fun, and effective recess times.