"Our prevention pieces are the biggest. We want to nip it in the bud before it ever happens, and the most important thing is to exhibit routines and procedures. Children find security in structure," she said. "But before you can ever change a behavior, you've got to identify where it's coming from. If I know a student has a problem with being tardy, I can't address it until I know why it's happening."
Teachers examined data from surveys taken by West Virginia students last school year, and determined ways they could help drive those numbers down that were negatively impacting students' overall health.
For instance, 16 percent of students who were surveyed in 2012 said they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Thirty-five percent said they felt depression and other mental health issues were a severe problem at their schools.
In addition, 12 percent said they had smoked marijuana in the past month, and 14 percent admitted to binge drinking.
Larry Stinn, longtime teacher and principal, told teachers that they have the ability help curb those statistics by reframing the way they approach inappropriate behavior and student consequences.
"If I'm out to catch and punish them and that's my attitude, they're going to focus only on that. But if it's strictly a matter of behavior, then they have a chance to think about it," he said. "Your attitude is crucial to theirs."
Greg Cartwright, a former Calhoun County schools administrator, said that self-awareness and self-management should not only be student goals, but also goals for teachers as well.
"I was a high school principal for 22 years and in reflection, one of the biggest mistakes I ever made was assuming that when kids came to high school that they were mature enough to know how to behave," Cartwright said.
"It's about shaping behavior. It's got to be clearly stated and consistently enforced. Otherwise, they're not rules -- they're merely suggestions."Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.