Anderson Co. elementary sees better behavior, less discipline

This year, kids weren’t getting in trouble as much, because of more structure and social distancing and less over-stimulation.
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 6:58 PM EST
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CLINTON, Tenn. (WVLT) - Remember some of your favorite memories from school? They probably involve getting in trouble with you and your friends. This year, kids weren’t getting in trouble as much, because of more structure and social distancing and less over-stimulation.

“When we first started this year we weren’t sure what to expect. But we were ready to be flexible and adapt to whatever walked through our doors,” said Jessica Duffle, a special education teacher at Grand Oaks Elementary School.

Kindergartners sat quietly in their seats practicing writing when WVLT News visited Friday afternoon.

“We noticed when the kids came in they were very happy to be here,” said Duffle, “We’ve noticed by just creating an environment that is safe and secure and predictable everything has pretty much fallen into place.”

It’s an effort to increase good behavior and decrease trips to the principal’s office.

Duffle explained, “There’s not as many opportunities to see behavioral issues because of the social distancing and the schedules that have been put into place.”

During recess there can be multiple classes outside, each assigned to different areas.

“Our car and bus rider has been completely revamped this year and that is usually an interesting time during the day, and it is smooth sailing for us, because of the structure that’s been implemented,”

Students walking in the halls and group carpet time became more strategic to ensure fewer students around.

Kids have assigned seats for lunch in the cafeteria.

“In a normal year we may have about 20 percent of our student population that at some point will have an office discipline referral...but this year it’s just been almost non-existent,” said Jessica Conatser, principal of Grand Oaks.

She’s grateful there’s more time for teachers to focus on teaching.

Conatser said, “As a principal, you always dread having to make those phone calls to parents about their kid having to come to the office, so it’s been really nice to focus more on the positives this year.”

“I think that the routine and structure of the classroom has been hugely beneficial to my kids,” said Jessica Bray, a teacher and parent at Grand Oaks.

Bray noticed her kids’ already good behavior has been even better with all the new measures.

Bray explained, “They thrive being in a group of kids in the social setting and being with their teacher.”

Though there have been many good results to come from the new structure, students need hugs and high fives. That’s one thing the leaders of Grand Oaks are most excited to bring back next year.

“We provide an education. We provide mental health services. We provide a safe environment. But the students this year have also provided for us,” explained Duffle, “They’ve given us a place where we forget that there’s a pandemic going on because our main focus here is teaching. And that has not wavered.”

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