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Innovations in Education| Innovations in Education

Innovations in Education| Innovations in Education



Brayden Saunier, 7, shows off his pencil during math class

Brayden Saunier, 7, shows his pencil during math class Sept. 27th in Plato (Mo). Plato School District teachers encourage students to be kind and considerate of others in class.



The landscape is located more than three hours away from the largest cities of Missouri. It passes through farm fields with grazing livestock, and a group red brick buildings belonging the Plato School District dominates the landscape.



Josslyn Moore, 11, sits in her social studies class preparing a presentation on Native Americans of the Southwest

Josslyn Moore (11 years old) is preparing a presentation about Native Americans of the Southwest for her social studies class. It was scheduled for Sept. 27, in Plato, Mo. Moore stated that she is glad to be back at school. We are able to move from class-to-class, so that we can be with many different people for every class. It is exciting and enjoyable.



However, there is something different about this school district. Students learn how to comfort, share, and help others, in addition to the fundamental subjects.

Josslyn said, “The teachers have taught me to be kind to one another and not disrespect my classmates,” JosslynMoore, 11.

The sixth grader said that if there is a disagreement among classmates, I would ask them about it and then I would try my best to help in any way possible.

These selfless acts are part the Plato R-V Schools District in southcentral Missouri’s prosocial education program. It aims to create a sense community among students.



First grade students Hunter Wake, 6, right, and Bryant OQuinn, 6, learn math by playing an interactive game

Bryant OQuinn (6th grade) and Hunter Wake (6th grade), learn math through an interactive game. Plato R.V. District School was the first school in Missouri to offer prosocial behavior education in schools.



Hunter Wake, a student in the first grade, explains it this way: If a classmate feels sad, you make them feel better by hugging and talking to them.

Most people are familiar enough with the concept of antisocial behavior. This is when an act of aggression or aversive behavior disrupts the functioning of society. Prosocial, on the other hand, is what Christi Bergin, a professor at MU, says.

She said that it is any voluntary or intentional behavior that benefits others.

Last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns had a significant impact on student social interaction and made training even more necessary.

They haven’t been around many students or out in the public as much. This makes it difficult for them to understand appropriate behavior and how to be friends to others. Kristy Graber, a Plato teacher, said that this is a challenge.

Plato School, and two other districts received prosocial education in two years’ time under The Prosocial & Active Learning Project (PAL) Classrooms by Bergin along with a group of researchers. The training was limited to science and math classes in fifth grade.

It is more promising this year, said Morgan Breedlove. She was one of the first teachers to learn how to teach students social skills in addition to the main subjects.



A middle school teacher at Plato School District Lavoie Dakota helps his student to prepare

Dakota Lavoie, middle school teacher, assists students in preparing a presentation during social classes class at a school located in Plato (Mo). Lavoie is optimistic about long-term benefits of prosocial education. He stated that he hoped we would have better manners in the classroom and out.



Plato school teachers encourage their students to support one another and be aware in class.

Breedlove asked students in her class in family and consumer science to share their expectations for working as classroom teachers for the remainder of the semester. One of them was interrupting his classmates all the time.

She asked the student if he believed that his comments were appropriate, and prompted him into evaluating his actions.

Teachers are trying to reduce antisocial behavior by preventing interruptions.

Breedlove stated, “We were working on these, saying it isn’t appropriate first of all, and you are taking everyone elses time.”

Graber said that her prosocial approach has changed the way she interacts when she sees first graders who are behaving inappropriately. They help students think through the process rather than just saying you’re in trouble.

Graber would ask Graber, “Was that a safe choice?” If a student pushes another classmate on the swings with the prosocial approach Graber would ask Graber: How did that feel?

They respond positively to it, according to the first-grade teacher who also took a masters course in prosocial behavior. They will be upset if you force them to sit by a pole or at recess. If they talk about the reasons, they realize that it wasn’t the best option. Usually, though, they don’t see it again.

Linda Meckem, director of curriculum, instruction, and grant management for the school system, stated that most teacher feedback has been positive.

They want prosocial posters to be displayed in their classrooms to encourage them to behave and provide references for students.

Bergin and the other researchers received this summer two grants from U.S. Department of Education. The $2 million grant was for a virtual ECHO portal to share this approach and with other states. It also continued funding for the $4 million PAL Classrooms program.



Audrey Fraley, a first-grade student, grabs a marker from a craft box during a math class. She is learning how to help and share her knowledge with classmates.



The ECHO platform allows experts from any field to virtually share their best practices and knowledge with less experienced colleagues.

Bergin said that we are working to find a way for teachers to have it anywhere.

Bergin stated that teachers are experiencing burnout in schools.

The American Federation of Teachers was founded in 2017. Survey on Quality of Work LifeAccording to a Gallup poll, 61% of educators feel stressed at work, which is the same as that of doctors and nurses.

The situation has gotten worse with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stress is epidemic for most of the 3.2 million educators in the United States, Sheila Ohlsson Walker, a senior scientist at Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, stated last year. EdSurge.

Bergin stated that student misbehavior is a major cause of teacher burnout. It reduces teacher burnout by helping students be more socially responsible. This makes teaching more enjoyable and more pleasurable.

Bergin stated that children who behave in a more positive way, are surrounded by prosocial kids, and cooperate with others students, feel more at home, safer, and happier at school. This leads to higher grades.



Kristy Graber, a first grade teacher from Plato School District, teaches students math

Kristy Graber is a Plato R-V School district first grade teacher who teaches math to students in Plato, Mo. In this school year, she started learning about prosocial Education in classrooms alongside other teachers. Graber stated, “My goal is to create a classroom environment of care and respect for other teachers.”



This is especially important for rural schools, where students don’t have the experience to get along. Dakota Lavoie, a social studies teacher at the Plato School District, stated that this is especially important.

Lavoie says that rural areas tend to be very hard-headed. This is also based on his own experience as a former student from a rural area near Plato.

However, it can be difficult to measure the change. Children tend to underestimate their abilities as if they are always being generous.

Bergins researchers devised a virtual reality game called vSchool to assess the true impact of prosocial education. This assessment was made possible by a $2 million grant.

Bergin believes that prosocial education in schools is still a process, but this could be the turning point for the education system.

Bergin stated, “I believe prosocial education should have been implemented in every classroom at every grade across the globe.” It’s obvious that it is beneficial for both the students and the teachers. There is no reason why you shouldn’t do it.

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