Positive Behavior and School Pass System

I would like to take this opportunity to explain our new Positive Behavior System and School Pass System. I know I am sharing a lot of information at once; however, it is critical that you know the why and what of these two new approaches.


The Positive Behavior System that begins on Monday is designed with learning at its core. From a developmental aspect, our students are doing EXACTLY what they should be doing. They are well adjusted 11-14 years old boys and girls. This can be an exceptionally difficult time in their lives, and we feel this new structure will provide more support.

In order to be more explicit and purposeful in our teaching of the “social and emotional” curriculum, we created this system to proactively handle the behaviors that, while normal, can cause disruption in and to the learning environment. Previously, teachers would use “short forms” to alert students to inappropriate behavior. Moving forward, we are experimenting with new techniques that support the behaviors we want to see and help students regulate and control the behaviors that need to change. For example, our teachers are incorporating movement in the classroom, mindfulness techniques, and a growth mindset  approach to learning. These strategies should support positive behavior in upwards of 90-95 % of our students.

For students who need extra support in the classroom, we have the ReFocus Room. This room is not In School Suspension, but rather a quiet area to reflect and refocus attention in order to be more successful in the classroom. We have a Teaching Assistant in the room at all times working with students on regulating themselves and re-entering the classroom after he/she has been sent to the Refocus Room. We expect the ReFocus Room to be used for short periods of time when a break is needed, thereby reducing the number of disruptions to the classroom. Because the concept of refocusing shifts the control to the student, he/she will no longer receive a discipline referral or DR. Our goal is to teach students to develop positive behaviors and change those that interfere with their learning and the learning of others.

NOTE: Serious infractions that compromise safety and well-being will continue to be dealt with swiftly and seriously.

With a similar purpose, we instituted a school-wide pass system. Your child may have told you about it already. We had a Henley Huddle and grade level Town Hall Meetings to share the purpose of the new pass system and to ensure that students had the same information about it. The goal of the new pass system is to build consistency among teachers and students and account for their whereabouts in the building. It is not about control, but about consistency.

The system does require students to use a generic pass to move throughout the building. Students CAN get a new pass if necessary AND we are absolutely allowing them to use the facilities whenever and as often as they need. It is very important I repeat those two things, as students get very anxious about not being able to get a drink or use the bathroom and I NEVER want them to think that these things incur any penalty!!

WHY: Some of the why has been explained above. The main WHY is to keep teaching and learning at the core of what we do. Recognizing that what we teach extends far beyond content, we want to be more proactive and supportive of students so that they learn appropriate skills and behaviors in a safe and nurturing environment.

We are implementing these two new systems now because they are fairly important culture shifts and we need time to work out the “kinks” before unveiling the system next year. We want to know what works and doesn’t work so we can have the best system in place for the 2016-17 school year.  Change is not always easy, so please be aware that we are always working and studying our practices to make sure they are best for students.

WHEN: This system will be in place for the remainder of the year. We will dedicate time during our Henley Huddles to explain and explore the Positive Behavior System so that everyone hears the same messages. We expect to learn a lot in the coming weeks; we will likely make some mistakes, but as long as we remain student-centered, we feel this approach better supports their development and well being.

Feedback is critical, so please encourage your child to share his/her thoughts with us. Parents are invited to do the same.


Looking Forward…


At this time of year, it’s always fascinating to me to be just hitting a mid-year stride while preparing and planning for our next school year! We recently took small teams to each of our elementary feeder schools and met with next year’s sixth graders. They were eager to hear more about Henley, ask questions about their classes and our schedule, and hear from their former elementary school peers about electives, STING, and life before and during the transition. We had a GREAT time with them.

Meanwhile, back at Henley our teams are busily preparing to meet with rising 7th and 8th grade students about their course selections for next year. We recently asked students about the courses offered at Henley and were pleased to hear that the majority of them feel we are offering the appropriate number of engaging electives from which they can choose. In the coming years, we will look to maintain a balance of electives that interest students and support the learning work that they want to do. If you have any questions about dates and courses, please check our Henley Middle School website, as we have developed a transition page under our Counseling tab to improve communications with our families.

Now, we’ve still got a lot of time left in this school year, and lots of activities taking place at Henley.  We’re getting ready to celebrate spirit week next week, which always culminates with hard fought student/faculty basketball and volleyball games.  The second semester will bring National History Day, the Science Fair, EXPO Night, our ACPS Spelling Bee and much more. Please note the change in our EXPO Night to March 30. We are busily planning for our annual student showcase; be on the lookout for more information about the schedule of events. SAVE THE DATE: EXPO Night would not be the same without you.

Finally, our new gym facility is almost complete and we anxiously await the ribbon cutting ceremony and community open house (dates to be announced). As you may know, but it’s worth repeating, our new facility will be one of a kind with a turf field, fitness center, outdoor fitness area, and learning commons. Henley Middle School is paving the way for innovation in middle school physical education and fitness for life!

I look forward to a strong second semester. Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education.