CPS Hosts Positive Behavior Cross-School Expo 

Schools collaborate to improve social-emotional learning

May 23, 2013

Last week, Chicago Public Schools' Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports (YDPBS) Office held its second annual Positive Behavior Cross-School Expo. More than 200 attendees from CPS schools, networks, central office and partner agencies participated in this event, which featured professional development on social-emotional learning and positive behavior supports, and exhibits of best practices by 60 CPS schools.


To highlight the work discussed at the Expo, YDPBS followed Kelly High School, Dawes Elementary School and Kelvyn Park High School to capture the critical work that CPS schools are undertaking to provide students with the social, emotional and behavioral skills necessary to succeed in college and career. (Click here to watch the video about positive behavior supports at Kelly, Dawes, and Kelvyn Park on YouTube.)


"Instead of relying on reactive discipline strategies that are ineffective and inconsistent, we work with schools to teach, model, and reinforce positive behaviors," said Jennifer Loudon, Director of YDPBS. "This has a huge impact on our schools, because we see students spending more time productively engaged in the classroom and taking ownership of their learning."


The YDPBS team supports network staff, teachers, support staff and principals in establishing positive learning climates and ensuring that every student feels valued, challenged, and supported. This includes developing a positive school-wide climate, proactive classroom management practices, social-emotional skills, and behavioral interventions and therapies for students who need more support. This kind of learning is linked to improving student attitudes about themselves and others, and has been proven to create a positive classroom environment by dramatically reducing aggressive behavior and emotional distress.


Research shows that creating positive behavior supports and developing social and emotional learning in schools improves academic outcomes and better prepares students for college and career. High schools that have implemented positive behavior support strategies for 2 or more years have seen a 28 percent reduction in out of school suspensions, and one increased attendance from 78 percent in the fall of 2011 to a current attendance rate of 92 percent. Additionally, certain middle schools have seen physical fighting reduced by 42 percent in two years.


In addition to providing support for all schools implementing social and emotional learning, the YDPBS team will provide all welcoming schools with training, materials and ongoing support to ensure that students' social, emotional and behavioral needs are met during the proposed transition. CPS will work with welcoming schools to design a specific program of support for each school, which will include evidence-based school climate and social emotional learning strategies; restorative practices (peer circles and peer juries); access to highly-structured interventions for smaller groups of students in need of more individualized attention; and student leadership and culture building activities.


"Our targeted focus now is on all sending and welcoming schools," said Jennifer Louden. "We want to make sure that every student in these schools feels valued, challenged, and supported in their academic and social emotional growth."