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TUSD says no to bullying, yes to positivity

POSTED September 20, 2013 2:38 p.m.

The Turlock Unified School District is doing everything it can to stop bullying and promote positive behavior in the district.

On Tuesday, the TUSD Board of Directors were provided with an update of their current agreement with Michael Elium, an expert in student psychology, about the positive development training he is currently providing for TUSD staff. 

Starting late last month, the TUSD entered into a service agreement with Elium to provide training to selected staff at each school site to develop and promote positive behaviors for students that involve the following categories: Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful.
Since the start of the program, Elium has provided two half day workshops for the district-wide positive support team and two full day workshops to site-based positive behavior leadership teams on varying district campus sites. The training has cost the district $3,900 and is being funded through a California Endowment Grant aimed at promoting positive behavior on school sites.

Gil Ogden, director of students services for TUSD, said Elium and the training has proven to be very effective for the district, despite having been available for such a short time.

“He has some personal connections with our staff and the people that he is meeting here at the district, and it is rather amazing” said Ogden. “We’ve done a lot with our programs in such a short period of time.”

Elium said the curriculum of the training is structured to promote positive behavior on a more intrinsic level, rather than trying to barrage students and staff with concrete rules.

According to National Association of School Psychologists, harsh punishment and zero tolerance policies have not been effective at either improving behavioral climate in schools, or preventing students with problem behaviors from entering the juvenile justice system.

Elium added that in order to successfully ensure positive development, staff members need to adapt and be more flexible to particular student situations.

“You have to make the assumption the certain kids aren't coming from homes like they did in our era when they had all the social skills they needed; so some kids aren’t coming in with conflict resolution skills,” said Elium. “We need to make sure that we teach that.”

Elium said one of the principle tenets of positive development training is complimenting or recognizing student achievements, no matter how small the task. A personal connection with a student, Elium says, is key to altering behavior.

“Kids really like to work with the attention and positive acknowledgment of the students,” said Elium.

 NASP statistics also show that schools that employ system-wide interventions for problem behavior prevention see a reduction in office discipline referrals of 20-60 percent.

Positive behavior training for TUSD is set to end in December.

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