Part of the MCES TEAM: Students learn community-building behavior
By Kathryn Schiliro
At Morgan County Elementary School, getting your name on the "TEAM (over) Me" bulletin board is, well, the school's equivalent of achieving rock-star status.
This school year, teachers and administration at MCES have unveiled a community-building, behavior-related program: "TEAM (over) Me." (In this instance, TEAM stands for "Together Everyone Achieves More.")
The concept began with the analyzation of data that dealt with "prevalent behavioral issues in the MCES culture over the past years," according to information provided by Jean Triplett, the school's principal.
The design team working with the data was able to place most of the behavioral information within one of four areas: physical behavior, verbal behavior, academic discipline and social skills.
While there isn't an overwhelming number of discipline issues at the school, Triplett said, there are always going to be some problems when 750 kids are placed together under one roof. While the TEAM program is meant to target poor behavior, it's also meant to teach students what a community is and how to function within it, to think "how our actions affect the team."
"'TEAM (over) Me' emphasizes that the learning community is a team and as such the concerns of the team take precedence over the secondary interests of 'me,'" the information states.
In addition to "Together Everyone Achieves More," TEAM also stands for the four behavioral areas dictated by years of data:
• "Think first: Keep your hands and feet and objects to yourself"
• "Engage in assignments: Listen and learn"
• "Appropriate language: Always use it"
• "Manners: Respect everyone and everything"
So, how does this program work?
First off, students are required to recite the TEAM pledge each day, "committing themselves to positive, responsible behavior." This teaches accountability; because the students made the pledge, teachers and administrators can hold them accountable if they violate an aspect of the TEAM program.
Should a student exhibit poor behavior, teachers require the student to circle the aspect of TEAM they violated in their agenda and then write about it. This goes home to parents.
If the student makes it to the principal's office, they have to write a bit more about their behavior and the TEAM program. There is a greater chance of learning and retention if students are required to expand on their behavior.
"The goal is that they articulate what they did, why, and how they didn't meet the TEAM," Triplett said.
But "a positive, proactive plan of affirmation and rewards for good behavior will accomplish what a system of negative punishments cannot," the information states.
Back to the bulletin board mentioned at the start of this article: There are a number of incentives that students can earn within TEAM. The ultimate reward? Getting selected by your teacher to have your name placed on the TEAM bulletin board – there is another TEAM bulletin board in place to showcase student work – in the school's main hallway. It is from that board that Triplett chooses students for special jobs, like hosting the school's daily announcements or guiding tours.
This occurs monthly; daily, students (or classes) who demonstrate "exemplary behavior" are given tokens, which they place in a jar in their classroom. Each nine weeks, the class from each grade level with the most tokens is rewarded with a banner placed above their classroom door.
How is the TEAM program being received by students?
"It makes me feel good. It shows we're doing good," fifth grader Lauro Barrios, who has already gotten his name placed on the TEAM board, said.
Other bulletin board-ers shared examples of teams and teamwork outside the elementary school: NASCAR teams, soccer teams and (this answer was given most frequently) students' moms and dads.
Among the things students have gotten from the program so far this year, other TEAM bulletin board-ers report learning is how "to be a part of the team," "to engage and have good manners" and "to treat people how you want to be treated."