Bridge the Chasm

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring"               - Martin Luther King, Jr.

EVERY 2nd Grader Fluently adds and subtracts within 20 and Reads grade level text with purpose and understanding.


We coach students through a process of developing techniques to get themselves under control and make their lives successful. We encourage them to judge their actions in the context of "winning" in life, and to focus on "what". What did you do, what do you wish you had done, and what specific action will you take to change the outcome.

The core concept is introduced with a question:
Why are we here?
The answer is the context for all further communication with the students:
To Win
They need to embrace this idea. Since the students didn’t have the decision to be at school, we need to deal in the best way possible with them buying in to winning.
If they embrace winning, then discipline can be done in the context of them learning, for themselves, how to win.
After embracing winning, we teach the value of being specific about actions and events.
The next question we ask is intended to get specific about winning:
What does winning look like?
The answer:
When you’re 23, you can do what you want and live where you want.
While some may suggest the student develop their own answer, we felt it was important for us describe a win that would encompass whatever they wanted while still being specific. It is important for three reasons: (1) it is a year after college, (2) it is close enough to provide some urgency and (3) it is far enough away that we can encourage the student to stick with it in the face of setbacks.

The next set of questions is intended to focus them on a specific time in their day:
Pick a class for us to talk about / or / what class were you kicked out of?
What subject?
Who was the teacher?
What time of day was the class?
Tell me something you learned in class?
This question needs to be pursued.
If the student identifies what they learned, they need to explain it in detail.

Finally, we deal with the behavior.
What was the most disruptive thing that happened in class?
We ask this to take the focus off the student and onto the idea of disruption.
How did you respond to the disruption?
What was the most disruptive thing you did in class?
What was the reason the teacher said they asked you to leave class?
From these last three questions, we identify a specific action to work on or have the student select one. Only one action should be focused on. We do not worry that multiple issues have been identified, the student knows it, too. It is most effective to focus on one thing at a time. When the behavior to correct is identified the student is asked:
What specific action can you take to stop doing the disruptive behavior?
The students answer needs to be specific. Answers like "I will try to stop talking" are too vague. Answers need to be like "I will write shh* on the outside of my binder so I will see it when I am sitting in class". This will have the child thinking about the issue and more important about the effectiveness of the remedy they designed.

Life Skills can be used with students sent from class during the school day, or on a periodic basis (say every two weeks) with all students, or both.

If used when students are sent from class, students should go through this exercise every time they are asked to leave a class, even if it happens every day, or multiple times each day. The more the student is sent from class, the more we talk about our belief that the student can win.

If used periodical, the exercise can be done in a group of up to four. When that is the case, we look to see if there is a theme in the four different student's answers.

Report on the results of Bridge the Chasm’s Life Skills Program at Frick Middle School

We have been at Frick Middle School in East Oakland since mid-January doing our Life Skills program with four full time coaches. Suspensions and students being sent from the classroom for behavior problems has gone down. It's gone so well, we have reduced the number of Life Skills Coaches from four to three. The program teaches students how to take responsibility for their success and gives them the time and mental space in which to succeed. (See THE LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM below)

On January 6, 2014, Bridge the Chasm started its Life Skills Program at Frick Middle School. Students who disrupt class are given a referral by their teacher and sent to the office. Most students are then sent to Bridge the Chasm for Life Skills, where there are coaches waiting to work with them.

The following analysis is based on 869 referrals given by teachers from January 6th (the first day back from Christmas break) through April 29th 2014. The referrals were given to 212 students, or 67% of the 315 students at Frick Middle school. Over 80% of students receiving referrals were seen by Bridge the Chasm.

The analysis centers around whether students seen by Bridge the Chasm are less likely to be referred over time. In the following analysis, students have been divided into four groups based on the month in which they first received a referral. So the group of students described as “January Students” received their first referral in January.

The following list shows the number of students, number of referrals and referrals per student for each group.

January Students: 105 students, 613 referrals, 5.8 referrals per student
February Students: 54 students, 184 referrals, 3.4 referrals per student
March Students: 35 students, 52 referrals, 1.5 referrals per student
April Students: 18 students, 20 referrals, 1.1 referrals per student

The first two charts show the Number of Students receiving referrals by month and the Number of Referrals by month. Students seen in each group decrease over time. So while the number of students seen in February and March are basically the same, the students seen in March for the first time are balanced by the decrease in January and February Students. By the April the total number of students seen is the lowest of any month even though April has 18 students seen for the first time.

The next two charts show the students who return each month as a percent of how many came in the first month. On the left, the data is shown by calendar month. On the right, the data is shown by month by group.
• 50% of students who received a referral in January did not receive a referral in April.
• 63% of students who received their first referral in February did not receive a referral in April.
• 71% of students who received their first referral in March did not receive a referral in April.

Also analyzed were the number of referrals per day, using a rolling five day average. The first three charts show the number of referrals per day for each of the four groups. The last chart shows total referrals per day. Because of the decrease in total activity from February to March, we were able to reduce the number of Life Skills Coaches from four to three.

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