The Lifelong Guidelines and LIFESKILLS are the agreed-upon behaviors for all,

thus replacing the rules of traditional “discipline programs.”

Our educators are well-versed in these values and practices.

Brain-Based View of Behavior

Looking at behavior from a brain research perspective requires that we shift our thinking from behavior as a set of choices to be manipulated or redirected to behavior as a neurologically driven mix of genes and childhood experiences. This is what Dr. Bobby Sylvester calls the “genes and jeans” from our parents and primary caregivers.
Misbehavior should be viewed as a learning problem and not a delinquency problem for various reasons:

  • The student has learned too much of the wrong behavior.
  • The student does not understand the need for appropriate behavior.
  • The student never learned the appropriate behavior, or
  • The student has not had enough practice of the appropriate behavior.

A Student’s Five Basic Needs

The Need to Belong: Students want to be liked by the group. They desire to be sociable with others, because peers are important. They enjoy working with others and want to meet expectations. Positive belonging behaviors might include: hugging adults, playing with friends, and being in a club. Examples of negative belonging behaviors might include: being in a gang, trying to impress others, and participating in acts of wrong-doing with peers.

The Need for Power: Students like to feel competent, and they become distressed by mistakes. They typically observe others before trying something on their own. They need to feel important and need to feel a sense of accomplishment. Positive power behaviors might include: learning new things, like how to read, multiplication, or a new game on the computer. Examples of negative power behaviors include: bullying, punching, kicking, spreading rumors, and cheating.

The Need for Freedom: Students want to have choices. They love to experiment and are willing to try anything new and engaging. They desire to feel like they are in charge and desire to move around. Positive examples of freedom behaviors include choosing who to play with, picking what to eat at a restaurant, or productively using free time in school. Negative examples include daydreaming, not paying attention, or not listening to the teacher in class.

The Need for Fun: Students want to enjoy work. They love to clown and joke around. They need pleasure and learn with laughter. These students play games. Positive examples of fun include: going to parks, playing games with friends, or playing at recess. Negative examples of abusing fun include jokes at another’s expense, playing too rough, or other destructive behaviors.

The Need for Security: Absence of Threat/Nurturing Reflective Thinking. A threat is anything that triggers fears—the fear must be accompanied by a sense of helplessness. Threat can be either real or perceived; it varies from person to person. Threats—real or perceived—significantly restrict, if not eliminate, a student’s ability to fully engage in the learning process. To be open to new ideas requires confidence that one is in a safe environment, an environment in which mistakes and difficulties in understanding are considered just part of learning, not an opportunity for sarcasm and put-downs.

Our Instructional Strategies

Our instructional strategies help students make connections between what they are studying and what is happening in their lives—at school, at home, and wherever they go. Our academy believes that if you cannot find a connection, don’t waste your students’ time teaching it. The world is full of urgent things for students to learn—for their safety, their health, their well-being, and their future capacity to succeed at work and family life.

Clayton-Bradley Academy’s instructional strategies aim to:

  1. Provide a good mix of collaborative-stimulative time and intrapersonal-reflective time.
  2. Provide immediate feedback to keep self-doubt and frustration at a minimum.
  3. Develop skills that can be used on a consistent basis.
  4. Provide an environment that:
    • Is free of threat
    • Has meaning they can identify
    • Offers choices in how to achieve the goal
    • Allows adequate time to practice
    • Is enriched for modeling how to do or use a skill
    • Offers opportunities for collaboration and enhanced understanding
    • Gives immediate feedback to help determine if they’re on track
    • Brings a sense of mastery, demonstrating they have the mental program for the skill
    • Celebrates learning


The brain loves celebrations. No matter how small the improvement, students and their teacher should show their appreciation for increases in student learning or behavior by a preponderance of celebrations. In a brain-compatible classroom, where threats are diminished and student confidence has increased, no place exists for negative behaviors. Threats place the brain in survival mode and make it difficult, if not nearly impossible, to learn at optimal levels. This is why, in Maslow’s hierarchy, survival and psychological needs are placed below academic pursuits. Survival needs must be satisfied before academic needs are even considered.

When a teacher affirms a student’s correct answer or when students celebrate the accomplishments of a peer, a cooperative group, or the class as a whole, confidence increases and the classroom becomes a place where behavior problems are diminished and learning is accelerated. Celebrations cause students to laugh, and humor helps students make personal connections with the teacher (Chapman & King, 2003). Celebrations must be relevant, believable, and last long enough to tell the brain to release positive chemicals, like dopamine, in the brain (Jensen, 2003). The more positive acknowledgments the student gets, the better; however, teachers should praise the students’ specific accomplishments, rather than the student himself or herself. Positive feedback may be the single most powerful influence on the brain’s chemistry, and it’s an essential element in helping people develop a healthy self–concept.

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