LISD program 'capturing hearts' of students
"The foundation of Capturing Kids’ Heart is the social contract," she said. "Everyone is held accountable for the way they treat each other."
Relationships are key
Love said that Flip Flippen, the founder of the program, states that "relationships and trust are the key to building good people and good students."
"It is about giving educators tools to be intentionally building relationships and high-performance teams," said Ron Fox, education training coordinator for The Flippen Group.
The program is currently being implemented at Judson, Bramlette and Johnston-McQueen campuses.
Lee Killingsworth, Assistant Principal at Judson Middle School, said although strong relationships "have long been an important part of the educational process," Capturing Kids’ Hearts has helped instructors hone in on ways to better form these relationships with students without taking away from the educational process.
"In addition, the introduction of the social contract to several of our classrooms has been a great tool to help teachers develop a discipline management program in their classrooms that the students understand and have a personal connection to," he said. "When students have a more personal connection to the discipline management plan in the classroom, they are much more likely to follow the plan with little to no pushback."
Bramlette Elementary School Principal Nikita Mumphrey said Capturing Kids’ Hearts has helped her teachers work better as a team to help improve student achievement.
"Our students are impacted by creating social contracts in their classrooms, which are a set of guidelines for how to treat each other and staff members throughout the school," she said.
"Teachers greet students as they enter the classroom as another method of building relational capacity with the students. As relational capacity is built with the students, it transfers over to the parents as well. Each month, a grade level presents a program to show what the students have learned that six weeks."
Taking it further
Mumphrey said, as a campus, Bramlette is taking it a bit further through the "Process Champions" training.
"We developed a program to mentor students that have behavioral issues, are academically low, or feel insecure about themselves," she said. "Teachers, who are not the regular classroom teacher of that child, will become a mentor to each student. The teacher will build a personal relationship with that student to help encourage and motivate the child. Through this, the parents also will have a relationship with the mentor teacher. As this program continues at Bramlette, students that need a mentor will have that mentor teacher throughout their entire time at Bramlette."
Love said Capturing Kids’ Heart is just one more way that Longview ISD "is striving to make each child be prepared to be productive citizens in our world."
"As Flip Flippen states: 'If you have a child’s heart, you have his head,'" she said.
Johnston-McQueen Elementary Principal Denise Frederick agreed, adding that — unfortunately — some hearts have been hardened and "need a good dose of tenderizer." At the same time, she said "a foundation of trust is inherent in the system of strategies needed to develop responsible members of a classroom."
When a student misbehaves and falls short of the agreement they made in the social contract, they are asked four questions: 1.) What are you doing? 2.) What should you be doing? 3.) Were you doing it? 4.) What are you going to do about it?
But if the falling short is an issue of respect, different questions are asked: 1.) Who are you talking to? 2.) How should you talk to them? 3.) Were you doing it? Is that how you are supposed to talk to them? 4.) How are you going to talk to them?
Frederick said far too often conflict in a classroom becomes personal, whether it is student-student conflict or student-teacher conflict.
"The social contract takes personalities out of the process," she said. "Conflict resolution in a Capturing Kids’ Hearts classroom is a beautiful thing to watch unfold. Students are given non-verbal cues to help keep others on track. It is a community effort, not a top-down authoritarian delivery of discipline. In today’s educational environment that champions student voice and student-centered learning, Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a trailblazer.
A work in progress
Even as the program is making significant observable improvements "one relationship at a time," Frederick said her campus is still a work in progress.
"As a leader, I look at my own constraints and focus on growing my capacity to mitigate them," she said. "Our team of process champions — a group of dedicated teachers — focuses on relationship building and making connections among staff."
In the meantime, LISD administrators believe the program has proven successful thus far. Capturing Kids’ Hearts has made Bramlette "stronger and more focused," Mumphrey said.
"It has helped to build a positive and team-building work environment that had not always been there with staff and parents," she said. "It has also improved our discipline and student academic success. Throughout the implementation of this program, we have had input from trainers and mentors within the program to help guide us and keep us on track. Without the help of this program, Bramlette would not be the tight-knit family that we are today and we are thankful for the opportunity to have it on our campus."
Mumphrey said Capturing Kids’ Hearts has shaped the culture of her campus and "has empowered our students, teachers, and staff to embrace the belief that we can accomplish any goal that is set before us."
"We are truly destined for greatness," she said.
Johnston-McQueen students perform scientific experiments earlier this month while Ron Fox, education training coordinator for The Flippen Group, meets with faculty and staff about the progress of the "Capturing Kids’ Hearts" program.