One principal's three-pronged approach to student success

Education Dive | May 19, 2017

  • Using a "triangle" approach to reach more positive outcomes, E.A. Cox Middle School Principal Tim Webb targeted the issues of discipline, academics and social-emotional learning to get results and reduce high staff turnover rates and the number of disciplinary incidents, he said in a recent article for eCampus News.

  • Webb said the school shifted its disciplinary approach to incorporate positive behavior support, while incorporating blended learning and problem-based learning into the curriculum as academic approaches. The school also created a Social, Emotional and Behavioral Rubric to measure the development of "soft skills."

  • Webb said that staff buy-in and empowering teachers was essential to making any protocol shift like the one he enacted a success, saying that changes must be done “with” people and not “to” them, and that administrators should endeavor to make collaborative choices when possible. 

Dive Insight:

Webb’s approach to the changes he instilled at Cox Middle School acknowledge the need for SEL to be at the center of a student’s education. Educators have expressed some hesitance in concentrating too much on SEL in lieu of other content that may be pertinent to exams, but Webb makes the point that it should not be viewed in contrast to a student’s lessons, but a necessary complement. Additionally, research indicates that SEL can lead to positive academic outcomes for students who participate. 

The benefits of SEL can also extend into mitigating discipline issues, turning them into teachable moments rather than distressing trends. Some educators believe there is an opportunity missed when discipline matters in the classroom are not transformed into SEL moments, while others assert that a solid foundation of SEL essentials will help students access better opportunities for learning and instruction. As discipline and academics are understandably placed at the forefront, it will help more students as educators and administrators increasingly realize education in “soft skills” are beneficial as well.

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