Controversy Over New Classroom Process

Payson Unified School District Office - South entrance

Payson Unified School District Office - South entrance |

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The Payson Unified School District’s plan to hire a consultant to help teachers engage students has provoked decidedly mixed reviews.

At its March 11 meeting, the school board listened to a presentation by Flippen Group consultant Chris Layton of the “Capture Kids’ Hearts” program.

Layton played news clips and videos from districts that have implemented the training program, which the board approved at its special meeting on Thursday, March 7.

At that meeting, board member Shirley Dye asked Superintendent Ron Hitchcock to provide an introduction to the process.

This week, Dye noted “I’ve read quite a few blog comments that show up negative — they say that teachers get tired of it and it’s not reupped by the district.”

Board member James Quinlan saw the presentation in a different way:

“As a classroom teacher, you don’t know about a student’s life,” said Quinlan. “I’m looking forward to doing something inspirational (through this program).”

The trademark statement of Flip Flippen, the creator of the process is, “If you capture a kid’s heart, you have his head.”

The process helps teachers with classroom management and improves the environment of the school, said Layton, whose presentation included images showing a teacher shaking the hand of every student that enters the classroom. On the walls, social contracts spelled out how students expect to treat and be treated by teachers. Teachers also write the same expectations for their students.

“It’s a process — not a program,” said Layton. “When you raise the bar, students will rise to expectations.”

Layton said the program reduces discipline problems, creates a culture of trust and support and improves test scores.

Board president Barbara Underwood said “this helps the schools teach what families are failing to.”

The other board members had more questions for Layton.

“How many schools in Arizona are involved?” asked Quinlan.

Layton said the program is in 65 of the 600 districts in Arizona.

“Is this program more successful in kindergarten through sixth grade or junior high and high school?” asked board member Rory Huff.

Layton said that the older students respond better to this process.

“In elementary school the students give teachers hugs and it’s easier to connect,” he said. “The high school and junior high students learn that teachers do care.” The program encourages teachers to get to know students better.

Dye said she worries students would feel compelled to share family secrets they would rather not share. She worried the program would take up too much instructional time.

Layton said that research shows when teachers connect with their students, they learn more.

On July 25, the Flippen Group will hold an open public training on the Capture Kids’ Hearts process. Members of the public are invited to attend. For questions, please call the district at (928) 474-2070.

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