• Garfield Elementary’s Amazing Race to Recess Social Skills Program

    Rationale for intervention:

    ·        Program started in 2009 

    ·        Why? Observed:  many kids were in office for recess timeouts; interrupting office staff and missing class time. Office is a very exciting place to be and was not really a consequence.

    ·        No re-teaching of problem behavior occurring.

    ·        Students, teachers, recess supervisors, and parents complained that little was being done to resolve conflicts in a timely manner.

    ·        Principal and MSW were spending a lot of time with conflict resolution, and seemed to be dealing with the same handful of students.

    ·        Teachers complained that kids were missing too much class time to resolve conflicts, (under pressure with AYP) and due to the high number of incidents; we were frequently unable to resolve the concerns immediately.

    What could we do differently?

    ·        We were already implementing several programs/tools school-wide:  Make Your Day, Kelso’s Choices, Peace Table, Second Step, Steps to Respect and Kelso’s Problem report

    ·        Kids knew the skills, but were not applying them. Needed coaching to help with application of skills.

    ·        Saw the show“Amazing Race”.  Liked the idea of using the race model and challenges for social skills coaching.


    How Amazing Race to Recess works:

    ·        MSW staffs all lunch recesses (2 hours per day – no Fridays) with trained peer coaches (assistant coaches) and myself (head coach) in our multi-purpose room. Peer coaches are nominated by their teachers.

    ·        Students (the racers) are referred by recess staff, teachers, parents or students themselves.  Referring behaviors include a myriad of social skills issues: aggressive play, fighting, friendship issues, isolation, not playing by the rules, peer conflicts, needing adult support, and kids in need of support due to injuries/medical notes (i.e. broken arms or legs).

    ·        The race is divided into 7 stations or continents (4 indoor and 3 outdoor). These stations contain games or activities requiring increasingly more complex social skills (activities and games).

    ·        There are social skill based expectations for each continent.  Racers are paired with an assistant coach and given a passport. The passport is used to record whether the racer met the expectations of each continent. MSW circulates and coaches kids with their behaviors as needed. Just before the bell rings, the pairs line up and report show the racer did (Did the racer meet the expectations of the continent? Were there any concerns? What could be done differently tomorrow? Etc.). I remind them that not every mountain climber conquers a mountain the first time.

    ·        Antarctica (Is a solo mission. Students are expected to sit quietly, read a book, raise hand for help, or cool off). North America (A 2 person mission. Students, with a coach, are expected to work together to pick a card game, play fairly, play by the rules, demonstrate appropriate winning and losing behaviors and clean up together). South America (A 3 person mission with same expectations of NA, but games are more complicated and require patience and cooperation skills). Australia (A 3 to 4 person mission with added expectations of waiting your turn, and sticking with the game over several days). Europe, Asia, and Africa are outdoor stations.(Each continent represents a different section of our recess area with its own expectations).

    ·       When the race is finished, the racer is given a small token. The racer is also eligible to apply to be an Assistant Coach if their teacher nominates them.

    ·        Students are also sent to Amazing Race for conflict resolution, (including filling out Problem Reports, Peer Mediation, and Peace Tables).  I monitor Peace Tables.


    ·         Few to no students in the office for recess behaviors.

    ·        Students are learning alternative social skill behaviors (less referrals to the office).

    ·        Students are coached to practice the social skills taught in class (i.e. 'What would Kelso do?' or 'What strategies can you use to calm down?')

    ·        Assistant Coaches benefit from leadership opportunities.

    ·         MSW connects with 60+ kids per day 4 days per week

    ·        Allows time for MSW to check in/support kids.

    ·        Positive feedback from all staff (Zoomerang survey, 2011).

    ·        Less time spent in class solving recess and other problems, (Zoomerang survey, 2011).

    ·        Decrease in Suspensions, Step 4s (office data).

    ·        Less time out of class for conflict resolution (Zoomerang survey, 2011)

    ·        Frequent opportunities to observe if previously taught social skills are transferring to real life settings.