Rhythm Revolution in Polk County, Florida

I’ve witnessed firsthand the amazing benefits of the DRUMBEAT program– participating students experience a 50% decrease in discipline incidents and a 30% increase in attendance*.

But like all data, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, the story of how that data affects our community.

For that, you have to consider the “Ripple Effect”.

Consider one DRUMBEAT participant at Lake Shipp Elementary. This 5th grade student was known for being physically violent – in short, she hit things. Daily. The wall, her desk, sometimes other students. She was referred to as a “frequent flyer”, because she was in the office so much.

On the first day of DRUMBEAT, she got up in her facilitator’s face and yelled “Miss! This year I’m gonna hit drums instead of people!” And to her credit, she did just that.

She didn’t hit anyone at school during her 5th grade year.

Now this is life-changing for the student, obviously, but it’s also life-changing for her teacher – who no longer feels like a failure because she can’t reach this student.

It’s life-changing for her family, who no longer gets calls about negative behavior from the school.

Most of all, it’s life-changing for the other 21 students in her class, who now have a safe environment in which to learn, think and grow.

And all this comes from just one student. Think about how much positive change is happening as a result of the more than 270 students who participated in DRUMBEAT last school year when Polk County Public Schools had just 20 facilitators.

Just 20.

Consider this: at the start of this school year, Polk County Public Schools had 75 DRUMBEAT facilitators – many of them running multiple groups, some of them operating on multiple school campuses.

Can you imagine all the positive change that is happening in our schools and in our communities right now?

Polk County Public Schools were looking to engage their students and create leaders within the classroom. Many students had demonstrated behavioral concerns, a low school attendance rate, and were struggling to achieve academically and engage socially.

This provided the ideal setting for DRUMBEAT to start a rhythm revolution in Polk County — creating a fun and energetic environment in which students could take control of their own behavior while at the same time improving their social and emotional learning.

Data was collected from the professionals who undertook the initial DRUMBEAT Facilitator Training in June 2016. From those 20 professionals trained, DRUMBEAT was delivered across 21 schools with 270 students participating across a range of elementary schools.

The 21 Polk County schools that participated in DRUMBEAT have seen dramatic improvements in their classrooms – reporting a 50% decrease in behavioral incidents and a 30% increase in school attendance. Both teachers and students agree that the program is successful at creating positive change for those involved.

Teachers and Principals explain that the program has a ‘ripple effect’ across the school. As the negative behavior incidents decrease and positive behavior increases, teachers can spend more quality time teaching, feel less stressed and as a result are more engaged in their teaching. Children who are in classrooms with the participants of DRUMBEAT experience a less disruptive class, affording greater opportunities for learning. Parents respond positively, noticing positive behavioral change. Academically, DRUMBEAT participants are reported as having greater focus and increased self-directed learning.

The ‘ripple’ effect to the community continues; it is the music making process and refection as the conduit for social and emotional intelligence, increasing students’ competency in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.  All these skills are critical to positive community engagement and offer ‘protective’ resilience factors to at-risk behaviors such as school dropout, criminal activity and susceptibility to alcohol and other drug use.

To hear about the Rhythm Revolution in Polk County, please view this video which highlights students, teachers and parents in Polk County who have delivered and participated in the DRUMBEAT program.

To find out more about DRUMBEAT for USA schools, please email drumbeat@holyoake.org.au
or click here to view details about the DRUMBEAT workshop in Florida.

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