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Omaha school teachers get training day for student behavior

Posted November 23

— Teachers at an Omaha middle school dealing with a spike in unruly student behavior have received an extra day of training focused on student discipline and how to better incorporate engaging technology into their classrooms.

Educators at Nathan Hale Magnet Middle School participated in a training course Tuesday that was designed to give them better techniques to deescalate behavioral problems and engage students. Teachers have complained this year about an increase in such problems, including student assaults on staff and other students.

Consultant Ako Kambon, CEO of Visionary Leaders Institute, is assisting with the training.

"I believe having now worked with the students in this building that there's every possibility that these students can achieve academically," Kambon said. "There's nothing that shows me these students won't be able to do it and there's nothing that says these teachers won't be able to do it."

Training sessions focused on special education, a district-wide behavior intervention system and the incorporation of different apps and technology into lessons.

Some teachers said voiced concerns about using technology in class because the school's internet is slow and laptops are in short supply. During the technology session, Visionary Leaders Institute chief technology officer Alonzo Edmundo said it using apps wouldn't be "the silver bullet to your situation, but it creates an atmosphere of an engaging classroom and collaboration."

Math teacher Terrell Matthews said the training gave him a change to reflect on the school's progress, "and look at our lesson planning and come up with new and inventive ways to try to reach troubled students that might feel that they're not connected with the staff."

Omaha Public Schools officials also have held parent meetings about the behavior problems and pledged to provide more staff and training. Additional security guards and student deans have been added, and the school is hiring a social worker.

The school's enrollment has nearly doubled this year with the addition of sixth-graders. The enrollment spike comes from the district phasing in a sixth- to eighth-grade configuration for middle schools.

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