Cultural Change: Does implementing programs that empower students to be proactive in their decision making create positive cultural change on the middle school campus?
Julie A. Buchanan
XXXX Middle School
XXXXX Independent School District
Julie A. Buchanan, Assistant Athletic Coordinator/PE-Health Department Head
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Julie A. Buchanan, PE-Health Department Head, XXXX Middle School, XXXXXXXX, San Antonio, TX XXXXX. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflecting on the hallways in the school and how many students were still in the hallways after the class bell had rung was overwhelming. This started to reflect on how many students were in the assistant principal’s office and the numbers were growing in our In-School Suspension (ISS) class each day. Looking at who the students were sitting in the assistant principal’s office was starting to become déjà vu. I started looking into the discipline problems on campus and relating it to the student’s tardiness to class.
My research started to take shape when I looked into our Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) program. I knew I could use these SSA students to help gather data and maybe pinpoint some of the issues on campus and where they are taking place. This data will help to shed some light on the issues we are facing but also give a better understanding of what it taking place on our campus with our students. There are 63 SSA students on campus and they are a combination of all three grade levels. This should produce a well rounded amount of feedback for data.
Objectives and Vision of the Action Research Project
Focusing on the needs of our students means learning what those needs are. The SSA program will help to empower our students with the tools needed to redirect unwanted behavior or to seek help without being put into an unwanted situation with their peers. These students will also be trained to reflect on the situations they partake in on and off campus. Our students will be asked to record information pertaining to any situation that requires their SSA training and to turn in the documentation to be collected by a Family Group Facilitator. This documentation will be disaggregated by location and types of mistreatment taking place.
Data will also be taken on the SSA students to show if they are part of the positive culture change or part of the issues taking place on campus. Tardiness to classes and discipline will be looked at for each of the 63 SSA students. The objective of this research is to empower the students in their decision making for the betterment of all the students on campus. The vision of this research is to see if empowering our students will help to create positive cultural change on the middle school campus for all our students and faculty.
Review of the Literature and Action Research Strategy
** I am still reviewing literature information on this research. Information attained will be added for EDLD 5398**
These are the sights I have looked at to draw information for my inquiry. Many of these sights reflect on the prevention of bullying in the school settings. Bullying has become a huge issue in schools and is being looked at very closely by the legislature. Many laws are being passed and updated and states are being scrutinized if they do not have something in place to protect our children from the unnecessary pressures put upon them by their peers. Community Matters is a group who promotes the SSA program and looks to empower students with the strategies and tools to make smarter and safer choices and to work on creating a new culture in their school that they are proud to be a part of.
- Elementary & Secondary Education
Title I — Improving The Academic Achievement Of The Disadvantaged
- Texas Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies “Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies – December 2011” (U.S. Department of Education). http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/texas.html
- Herr, K. G., & Anderson, G. L. (2005). The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Meyers, E., & Rust, F. (Eds.). (2003). Taking action with teachers research. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
- Kincheloe, J. L. (1991). Teachers as researchers: Qualitative inquiry as a path to empowerment. New York: Falmer Press.
- Texas School Buisness May 2012 http://issuu.com/parkplacepubs/docs/tsb_oct_2011_final
- Safe School Ambassadors
Articulate the Vision
Changing the culture of our campus would end up benefiting not only the students but the faculty as well. Trying to make this happen would need the help of my administration, counselor and some of the faculty on campus. In a meeting with the counselor and the Family Group Facilitators I will discuss the objectives of my research. I also will ask for feedback and insight that could help to reach the vision to create positive cultural change on our campus. I will also elicit their help in collecting the data from their SSA students throughout the semester to use in the research. The campus counselor and administration liked the idea of this research and vision to help promote the betterment of all our students.
My administration also looked at this research to help promote continued funding for the SSA program on our campus. My administration also encouraged me to connect another program, which is still in the works and will be implemented this next year, which demonstrates many of the same strategies but in a different context for creating a positive cultural change on our campus for the betterment of all our student body.
Manage the Organization
The program is funded by a grant which the school counselor will have control of the funds. There will be a two day training that will take place with all of the Safe School Ambassador (SSA) students and the Family Group Facilitators. Each Family Group Facilitator will conduct a meeting every two weeks with their SSA students. During these meetings there will be discussions addressing the strategies they have been given and to keep “safety of self” as the most important. Discussions will also include mistreatments the students have seen and the locations of concern. The Family Group Facilitator will keep records of the meetings and discussions as well as collecting the student’s action logs.
The school counselor will help to maintain the data that is turned in by each Family Group Facilitator until turned in to be disaggregated. Monthly meetings will take place with the Family Group Facilitators, counselor and an administrator to update any new strategies or concerns that have arisen. All students on campus will be introduced to the new program in a grade level assembly, but on a less detailed venue than the SSA students and Family Group Facilitators. Student and faculty safety is our number one priority to promote successful academic learning.
Keeping organization within the groups is left up to the Family Group Facilitators to run their bi-weekly meetings. Tools and strategies for these meetings are provided in the SSA handbook along with any documentation paperwork. Activities are to be conducted at these meetings to stress the importance of this program and what the students feel need to be done to increase all student safety and awareness on campus.
The school counselor makes sure that the monthly meeting schedule is put out and attended along with getting the passes out to the SSA students to attend their bi-weekly meetings. Any concerns that come up are brought to the school counselor or brought to the monthly meetings to be discussed. If action is serious enough to need immediate action an administrator will step in. All documentation will need to be turned in by the beginning of May before the end of the year SSA gathering.
Respond to Community Interest and Needs
Looking into our school’s culture it is situated within an urban society encompassed in a low economic setting and many of our students are on free and reduced lunch. The school is a Title I school having the highest number of special education students in the district. The social aspect of our student body seems to take precedence during the school day. Academics do not seem to be at the top of our student’s list of concerns.
Using Title I funds and grants along with the support of our community businesses begins to give our students an equal playing field. Students on campus will be empowered to make decisions geared toward the wellbeing of themselves, their peers, and their school experience. Through the use of discussion, trainings, and group interactions, they will be able to assess their learning and make changes to improve their success. These programs will incorporate the use of our community and parent involvement. This will be a work in progress.
** This is a work in progress at this time. Information attained will be added for EDLD 5398**