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Woodman Elementary Meaningful Jobs program helps student confidence and behaviors

Woodman Elementary Meaningful Jobs program helps student confidence and behaviors

A Woodman student put paper in the copy machineAt Woodman Elementary, the school’s psychologist, counselor and social worker have created an initiative to help build student confidence and work on curbing disruptive behaviors.

The Meaningful Jobs program is based on a research-supported intervention called Meaningful Work by Randy Sprick. The goal of the program is to create a sense of purpose in students and provide opportunities for them to experience success and worth. 

“We noticed that many of our students who were experiencing difficulty with behavior actually enjoyed the time they spent with behavior team members, child study team members, and administrators so they purposely acted out to get out of class and gain attention from their favorite people,” said Jamie Johnston, the school’s psychologist. “We need students to want to be in the classroom, but we also recognize that some students need more attention than one teacher can give.”

Twenty Woodman students have jobs, ranging from filling copy machines with paper, to delivering items to classrooms to checking to make sure that lights in restrooms are turned off when not in use.

“In picking students for Meaningful Jobs, we look at the student, their history, and their current needs,” said Johnston. “Some students are picked because were demonstrating negative behaviors, some are picked because they need frequent movement breaks and positive attention and others are chosen because they experience anxiety and need to work on feeling comfortable and safe in the building.”

“Every job comes with a lot of adult attention, positivity, social skills and positive reinforcement. We want these students to feel comfortable and proud and we want them to know we’re thankful for their hard work.”

Jobs are chosen that are truly helpful to staff and in addition to Woodman’s Child Study Team members, the school also uses behavior team staff and administrators to act as job "supervisors" and interact with students.

Students with jobs get an official badge, so they understand the importance of the job, and are easily recognizable.

“We've asked that whenever another staff member sees a student doing their job, they stop and give positive attention to that student, and thank them for their efforts,” said Johnston. “It is so wonderful to see the pride students have when they are thanked by their teachers, principals, and other staff members.” 

The program is relatively new at Woodman but Johnston says the data so far has been promising since they are seeing far fewer office referrals now than during the same time last year.