By Tessa Raebeck
Bridgehampton School teachers updated the Board of Education Wednesday, February 25, on their teaching methods and PBIS, the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention System.
Special education science and math teacher Jeff Neubauer showed videos and shared the science and thinking behind “these new ways of approaching education.” Bridgehampton teachers Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, who teaches environmental design and runs the up-and-coming robotics program, and Helen Wolfe, a math and science teacher, were also there in support of Mr. Neubauer.
In drafting this philosophy, the teachers took their academic experiences in a special education classroom and transferred those lessons to apply the methods to the larger student body.
The three core tenets of the philosophy, which was fostered by a handful of Bridgehampton teachers with help from Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, is a diversity of instruction methods and teaching styles, a focus on rewards rather than punishment in terms of student behavior, and a focus on transition, or accurately preparing students for work in a modern world through programs like robotics and coding, Mr. Neubauer said.
Special education teachers, Mr. Neubauer told the board, are able to work together in the classroom and thus, “we get to see a myriad of teaching styles.”
“The real thing we came to,” he said of he and his colleagues, “was that diversifying instruction and motivation really became the pillars of what we wanted [education at Bridgehampton] to be.”
The Positive Behavior Intervention System, or PBIS, focuses on rewarding good behavior in students, rather than punishing bad behavior. Originating in the district about five years ago, the system was designed to provide good behavior with rewards in a consistent fashion across grade levels and classrooms.
Good behavior in the classroom, Mr. Neubauer said, allows for a safer environment, where students can feel comfortable learning, asking questions, and expressing their creativity. With the slogan that ease of use equals implementation, the teachers created a Bridgehampton PBIS website. The platform, which uses technology to streamline the process, has earned recognition at the local, state and regional levels.
All behavioral actions are logged onto the PBIS website by teachers, producing a vast display of data on behavior trends in Bridgehampton.
Teachers can use the extensive data to make informed decisions on how best to deal with behavioral issues. They can track, for instance, that most of the negative write-ups for a student occurred during first period, then see that they were predominately for tardiness. The data allows teachers to “isolate the problem and try to solve it,” Mr. Neubauer said.
“We want to make school a place where you don’t have behavior issues, so every kid can learn and be able to be creative and have this freedom,” he added.
In other school board news, the board decided to pursue a budget that will not pierce the state-mandated property tax cap, which it expects to adopt at its meeting on April 22.
The annual community forum on the budget will be held Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium. The next meeting of the school board is March 25 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria.