An experiment at to encourage positive interaction between students and staff has been producing dramatic results, according to school officials.
Called the 1-5-9 initiative, a staff member makes an effort to encourage interactions with one student, five days a week for nine weeks.
“Each staff member picks a student they feel could use a little bit more support and develop a little bit of a relationship with,” said YIS Principal Steve Bjork. “In a lot of cases, this means they make more contact with the parent at home. It’s really touching base with that student in a positive way, but also in a very accountable way.”
While Bjork said officials at Yorkville Intermediate School have done other initiatives in the past to foster good relationships between teachers and students, this is the first time officials will collect and analyze the data.
The first nine weeks of the semester ended Oct. 31. Officials plan to compare results from the first nine weeks to the second to see what kind of impact the 1-5-9 initiative has on the student academically and behaviorally.
“We’re hoping (the positive interactions) has students feeling good about themselves which in turn leads them to want to do well in school,” Bjork said.
He said those in the education field often struggle with trying to find better ways to establish relationships with their students.
“Schools always struggle with, ‘What if students don’t turn in work?’ or ‘What if students don’t care about homework or passing?’ There are not a lot of good ways to deal with that,” Bjork said. “We’re trying something out of the box and looking for something that’s going to sustain itself. Once students leave here and go to the middle school, we want them to take their positive attitudes with them.”
Already, officials have seen changes in the students they’ve made an effort to interact with.
“There are a lot of observable things going on,” Bjork said. “We see them smiling more in school and more positive about school and that they have more confidence.”