Positive reinforcement leads to school-wide change

As the largest middle school in the state of New Jersey, Lincoln Middle School has struggled at times with student discipline. Chronic tardiness and fights on campus have been a problem for this school, which serves 1,800 7th- and 8th-grade students.

Traditional approaches to student discipline haven’t worked to change the school’s culture. Not only has punishment been largely ineffective as a deterrent, but it also erodes the critical relationship between students and educators. When teachers are constantly meting out punishment, their relationship with students becomes confrontational instead of supportive—and this isn’t the type of environment in which students can learn most effectively.

Focus on the positive

School leaders have discovered a solution to this problem by focusing on the power of positive reinforcement. Using a program called Hero, Lincoln Middle School teachers and administrators have begun recognizing and rewarding students for their good behavior, such as coming to class on time and wearing the required uniform.

This modeling and rewarding of good behavior has created an atmosphere for change, and it has begun to shift the school’s culture. The entire administration, including Principal Fawzi Naji, supports the effort to build an embedded reward system into the school’s culture. As students who have been chronically late to class have seen their peers being rewarded for doing the right thing, some have begun to change their own behavior as well, without having to be told to do so.

“We’re seeing more and more acts of kindness,” says Assistant Principal Terrence Williams. “When students see other students being rewarded for doing the right thing, they catch onto it. It spreads like wildfire.”

The plan in action

Students can earn Hero points for being on time, wearing the required uniform, remaining on task, participating in class, and performing “random acts of kindness.” The points go toward incentives such as pizza parties and “dress down” (no uniform) days, which are one of the most popular incentives.


3 ways districts can use AR and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality, and cognitive science research sound like science fiction for today’s classrooms, but this technology is available today. Innovation and technology are as integral to education today as chalkboards were in the past. And with the introduction of emerging, new, and proven technology-enhanced innovations, teachers are creating new ways of teaching and improving student learning, leading to a shift in pedagogy.

Here are three of the latest innovations our district is using.


Lumilo is a pair of mixed-reality smart glasses that provide teachers with continuous, real-time feedback about their students’ learning, metacognition, and behavior, as well as potential effects of their own teaching. These glasses leverage the wealth of real-time analytics that drive AI-powered educational software (but which normally remain hidden behind the scenes), converting them into a visual form that is readily accessible to and actionable by teachers.

In this picture, math teacher Dana Rongaus is using Lumilo in her math class.

When a teacher glances around her classroom, Lumilo allows her to see real-time analytics (in the form of icons) floating directly above each student’s head. The teacher can glance directly at a student or “click” on a student’s icon to see more detailed information about where and how that student might be struggling.

These are examples of what a teacher sees when glancing at her class through Lumilo.