“Am I in trouble?”

Being sent to the principal’s office has historically been associated with stressful, negative feelings for students. But today, a growing number of schools are implementing a new best practice called “Positive Office Referrals.” We know this is a big idea because this video has been shared over nine thousand times on our Facebook page, with hundreds of educators commenting in with unique approaches.

Positive Referrals: In A Nutshell

The idea is to replace the negative stigma associated with the visits with an opportunity for students to anchor positive outcomes from their “above and beyond” behavior choices. Students are recognized with a trip to the Principal’s office, but for a good reason. Last year, we visited Tobias Elementary (click here for a case study) in the Austin, TX area, to see first-hand how their foundation of Growth Mindset, combined with the 7 Mindsets (SEL) and their MAPS program (PBIS) had transformed their school community. When they talked about positive referrals, we listened in.

The first thing we learned at Tobias, which was afterward confirmed by other schools, is that “when positive referrals go up, negative disciplinary referrals go down.”

Positive Referrals Best Practices

There are many ways to implement positive referrals, and the best recipe should be a reflection of your culture. Here are a few common practices we’ve gathered from the field:

  1. Call The Parents! Imagine being a parent and receiving a call from the Principal’s office, only to find that its purpose was to congratulate the child for exemplary behavior.
  2. Do A Little Dance! Positive referrals are ideally memorable for the student. Some school office administrators take turns high-fiving the student as they come in the door. Others turn up the music and celebrate!
  3. Create Positive Referal Cards. In the 7 Mindsets Classroom Portal, you can find pre-made “referral slips” and other related resources. Or, make your own! Many schools will send the referral home with the student, much like a certificate or award.
  4. Announcements! During school announcements, recognize the students who received positive referrals. In many schools, there are bulletin boards on display with student’s picture and the reason for referral, updated weekly.
  5. Make It Your Own! Would you like to share your ideas, or hear more from other educators using positive referrals? Join the hundreds of teachers and administrators from around the world who have piped in with ideas and stories on our Facebook page by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/7Mindsets/videos/1464355130322690/