As part of a grant through Project AWARE VT (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education), a dedicated youth-adult team at Middletown Springs Elementary School met on November 29th and December 9th to make meaning of their PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) school climate survey data from this October, while comparing it to data from the past two years. The 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students gathered with their classroom teachers, principal, and Local Education Agency (LEA) coordinator to identify what they see as top strengths and top concerns in the data, and brainstormed potential root causes and solutions to address areas of concern.

When looking at the data, the youth discovered that their top three strengths were high scores on the statements, “my school wants me to do well,” “my school has clear rules for behavior,” and “there is an adult who will help me at my school when I need it.” Their top three concerns were low scores on the following statements: “students in my class behave so teachers can teach,” “students treat each other well,” and “good behavior is noticed at my school.” 

They then performed a root cause analysis to get at the heart of what’s causing these issues. Some of the ideas they brainstormed for why youth might report feeling that they are not treating each other well include that students might hold different ideals, that they might not know how to disagree in an appropriate way, and that students might be experiencing problems at home. They began to flesh out ideas for taking action to address these root causes, and may hold a community dialogue with the school staff. The team has expressed interest in restorative practice work, so further implementing restorative circles into their school’s culture could be one initiative that they choose to undertake. 

We are so proud of the youth and their adult partners who are engaging in this crucial work, and can’t wait to see how they take action!