February, 2015

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Analyzing Office Referral Data


WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER! I certainly agree with that! When I worked as a behavior consultant, I spent hours and hours compiling office referral data. Our district wanted to analyze the data to look for trends. Thanks to my terrific sister, I was introduced to Excel Pivot Tables.


Yes, you can call me a nerd/data geek/whatever! I love analyzing data and Excel Pivot Tables feed that obsession!

Imagine having a tool that will let you enter new data, and with the click of a button, all graphs are instantly updated to include the new data. After I learned how to make the Excel Pivot Table work for office referral data, each month I was able to add the new data, click Refresh and was ready to send the new data to the schools for analysis.

One school had a lot of fighting going on. No one knew why. With Excel Pivot Tables, we were able to determine that the fights were occurring near the boys bathroom in the science wing after lunch. The school increased supervision in that location after lunch. Students were better supervised and not allowed to loiter. Fights stopped. Now that’s WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

Another school’s office referrals noted disturbances on the playground. After closer analysis, the conflicts happened the last 10 minutes of the 30 minute recess. We reduced recess to 20 minutes which significantly reduced playground conflicts. WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

When analyzing office referral data, a principal noticed the majority of the office referrals were coming from 3 teachers. The principal and assistant principal increased walk-throughs in those classrooms. They were able to help the teachers gain control with problem students. Office referrals decreased. YES! WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

When we anticipate problems, we can be proactive and prevent conflicts.

Analyzing the data:

NOTE: The pivot tables below have just 11 office referrals represented. It is just as easy to analyze 1000 or 3000 office referrals as it is to analyze 11.

The Student Chart shows how many office referrals each student received. You can use this information to form an At-Risk Team.














Click on the number next to the student who has the highest referrals.



The office referral appears for just Red Riding Hood! You now have the information you need to begin to make a plan for Red Riding Hood. You can share this information with parents, special education staff, school psychologists, etc.







Another way to use Excel Pivot Tables is to determine who sends students to the office most often. This gives an administrator information to consider if the teacher needs extra support.




I always like to see what infractions occur most often. You can compare the infractions month to month to determine trends of behavior. The infractions are coded: ct1-class tardy 1st time; dis=disruption; dru=drugs; fi=fight; out=out of assigned area; etc. You can create your own codes, use the ones your internet tracking program provides or use the ones I’ve developed. The most important thought is to enter the data consistently.  For example, if I enter “fight” for two students fighting one time and then enter “student fight” another time, Excel will identify these as two different types of infractions when they are really one. So be consistent with documentation.











Other types of data collected and analyzed include: infractions per month; infractions by gender; location of infraction; time of infraction; type of consequences used. As you get more comfortable and familiar with Excel Pivot Tables, you can add more areas to analyze. Analysis is endless. If you are like me, you will be so engrossed in the data you’ll wonder how the day flew by.

If you have Excel and the Internet, you can figure this out. Check out the videos on You Tube.

You do not have to be an Excel Pivot Table Pro to use this. If you want the data/tracking but don’t want to create it yourself, I’ve made one for you with step by step directions. You may find it well worth the $7 price tag to save yourself the time, energy and effort of learing how to make a pivot table. Just download the one I’ve already created-OFFICE REFERRAL DATA ANALYSIS. It’s ready to use. Remember, WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!


roosevelt quote

February, the month of LOVE, is home to Valentine’s Day and, personally, my more preferred celebration, Random Acts of Kindness week. This year, RAK week is February 9th-15th. You agree, I’m sure, that RAK should be every day, not just a week-long celebration, but intentionally promoting it during this week is lots of fun! Links to two of my favorite sites for passing on kindness every day are found at the end of this post. However, the point of this post is to tell you about a great resource to use with students who are NOT being treated kindly, targets of bullying. The link to this site is also at the end of this post, but don’t skip ahead just yet. First, let me tell you a little more about why it’s so great and what makes it different from other bully prevention programs.

Being teased, or worse yet bullied, is never okay. While it is not okay, it is true that all people will have times when they get teased, and for some, the level of teasing will occasionally reach the severity of bullying. When these situations occur, it is important to thoroughly investigate, consequence the bully, and support the target. While the bully will receive discipline, with legal action being an option if the bullying is severe, what happens to the target? (Note: More about working with students who bully in a future post because it is not all about punishing!)

I’ve had students and parents, alike, get very mad and even argue with me when I talk with them pam_general[2]about what the target can do to decrease the chances of being teased or bullied again. The whole concept of the target changing his behavior to decrease the frequency of bullying is viewed by some as suggesting that the target CAUSED the bullying. This is not true. The target did not MAKE the bully tease him. Another complaint about this approach is “Why should I have to change? I didn’t do anything wrong!” This is true. However, before you stop reading and tune me out altogether, consider the following…

What about a paradigm shift here? Recognize that in order for bullying to happen, there must be, at a minimum, one person doing the bullying and one person receiving the bullying. This makes it an interaction between two people. Since the target cannot change anyone except him/herself, it is helpful to teach the target strategies that DISCOURAGE bullying. While there are many curricula on this very topic, most rely on strategies such as walking away, getting adult help, using positive self-talk to refute the teasing, and assertively telling the bully to stop. These are all good strategies, depending on the situation, but they do not really address the option of adjusting how a target views the situation. What if the target decides to think about the situation differently, recognizing that a bully can only hurt him if he lets the insult bother him? This is a radical shift in perspective. Stay with me!

Years ago, I worked with a sixth grade gifted student who was a target of bullying. We will call her Sally. When other students teased Sally, she responded in a provocative manner, yelling, demanding they stop, crying, and getting very emotional. While the bullies were dealt with by school administration, since Sally was a “repeat” target, it was decided that it would be beneficial for her to learn skills to prevent her from inadvertently announcing, “If you want to have fun, pick on me because my response is entertaining!” This is where the Bullies2Buddies lessons came into play. I don’t remember where I first heard about this curriculum, but I have used it for many years. It has been helpful with many targets, including Sally, who adamantly argued with me throughout the first three lessons. She persisted in her opinion that she should not change; the bullies were the ones who should have to change. She was right about the bullies needing to change but wrong about herself. Sally finished the lessons and returned to a year of ongoing problems.

When Sally went into the 7th grade, she had significantly fewer issues with teasing. A few months into the school year, I called her to my office to see how things were going. Sally’s answer was one of those unforgettable counseling moments. “I know I argued with you the whole time you taught me those lessons last year, but this year I decided to do what I learned, and it works!” The following year, when she was in 8th grade, I asked Sally if she would like to teach the lessons to a 6th grade student who was having similar struggles, and with permission from both students’ parents, she gladly obliged. It is no surprise that the 6th grade student received the message with much less resistance since Sally was her teacher and had been down a similar road.

Eleanor Roosevelt was on to something, and what Izzy Kalman has created is a direct offshoot of her famous quote. Izzy’s website, www.Bullies2Buddies.com, is loaded with resources. The lessons I used with Sally (and many others) are found in a FREE manual titled “How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied Without Really Trying” at http://bullies2buddies.com/resources/free-manuals/ Check it out!

Two awesome kindness websites: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/   http://www.values.com/

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” by Richelle M CC BY 2.0