Planning Center: A Proactive Place For Students

What is a school planning center? A planning center is a proactive setting designed to help students problem-solve, develop appropriate school and classroom behaviors, and reduce the need for removal from the classroom. Washington Middle School, along with the two other Jamestown middle schools, is piloting a planning center this year to help its students.

“It is a safe place for students to go when they are struggling with anything in their lives,” said Paraprofessional, Kim Rizzo, who works with students in the Washington School Planning Center. “The goal of the Washington Planning Center is to serve students with a team of caring professionals who understand the needs of struggling students and to get them as quickly back to the classroom as possible so that they can succeed. We all know that students need to be in the classroom to learn.”

Washington Middle School’s Planning Center is part of the school’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports), giving extra support to individual students based on their specific needs. For example, a student may transfer into the school and have difficulty adjusting or another student might need some time to talk to someone after a behavior concern. Washington School students are referred to the Planning Center by the principal.

Planning centers are not a place to send students as punishment; they are not in-school suspension rooms. They are not long-terms placements. The length of time can vary from minutes, to hours or as long as it takes to get the student back to class. It all depends on what the student needs help in to make them successful at school.

Using Planning Centers helps students learn new skills on how to deal with their social emotional issues, keeps classrooms undisturbed and increase instructional time, changes school’s mindset from punishment to helping to change behavior, decreases the number of suspensions, improves grades and attendance, and helps students transition back into school.

All paraprofessionals who works in a Planning Center must: attend mandatory training sessions, help students use appropriate behaviors and reinforce skills taught by staff, provide assistance by collecting and making data entries to a child’s planning center plan as prescribed by the team, communicate with staff and the principals regarding children assigned to planning centers and those who will work with students in the planning center, and provide support for and receive support from the Child Study Team regarding students assigned to Planning Centers.