When it comes to the concept of Do No Harm, I believe that students should be safe while at school, both physically and emotionally. This is first established by the school administration in the student handbook that is distributed on the first day. My district takes a proactive approach to doing no harm to the environment. Recycling bins are everywhere, I usually can't find a trash can to save my life. We take the challenge of dimishing our carbon footprint very seriously. With the modeling, effort, and attention we put into the environmental programs, the recycling club is the most popular one on campus. It even has more members than the movie club, who gather in a teachers classroom to watch movies during lunch.
At the begining of each school year I allow the students to create the classroom rules (this years rules are in the image below). They take the assignment seriously and come up with some good ones. Occasionally, their rules are more strict than the ones I would have ordinarily put there. My favorite one this year is, "Respect others, and you should Expect Respect in return." I like letting them come up with the classroom rules because it allows them to see how inappropriate behavior not only effects the perpetrator, but everyone else in the class. As a school leader; it would be interesting to do this on a school wide level and see what the students come up with. I think that many people would be suprised with the maturity even middle schoolers can show when it comes to creating rules. Teachers would be encouraged to do the same in their individual classrooms. I would also continue to emphasize the idea of doing no harm to the environment. We would work hard to move to a paperless school by utilizing the possibilities provided with increased technology. Of course the increased technology resources will require professional development for teachers on how to incorporate the computers into their daily instructional practice and lessen their need for hard copies. Teachers will also need to learn how to teach with the technology. It changes everything in the classroom, especially student behavior. Specific targeted professional development will be needed. This can be done in grade and content level PLC's. I have experience in North Carolina moving an entire school system into the 1:1 environment all at once. It isn't an easy task, but if teachers are well prepared with quality PD under their belts, then it can be a smooth transition.
No student is perfect. Occasionally they make mistakes or just plain and simple do something wrong. At the begining of the school year our PLC sat down and came up with some norms for handling distuptive student behavior, this way we have consistency across the content. We also discussed how to teach students proper behavior. We have a list we created of things to try before we send the student to the office. Each teacher has a jar of pencils and a hanging file of paper for those who occasionally forget their pencil and paper. For my future sphere of influence I want to continue this practice. By giving teachers a voice in how they handle student discipline, we can have consensus.
While I am not the teacher whose first reaction is to send a student to the office; quite the opposite in fact, my principal told me that he needs to have more contact with some of my interesting students. I took that as code for, you don't send disruptive students up enough. I don't see the point of sending a student who is tardy out of the room, they have already missed enough of my class. I have pencils and paper readily available for all my students, some of them put their old pencils into the bin so someone who doesn't have one can use them. However, I do belive that occasional punative consequences can be effective when used properly. If a student cheats on an exam, or is verbaly abusive of another student, then time away from the situation, detention or suspension, can be helpful to allow it to neutralize. In North Carolina schools had to put students through a re-entry re-orientation meeting before they could rejoin their classes after a suspension. This can be a good time to discuss how the behavior was wrong, and possible ways to avoid the behavior in the future.
The five things that I am willing to do this Semester to make my school a more positive restorative place:
1. Continue to enforce the student created classroom rules.
2. Promote the recycling program on a more regular basis.
3. Focus on my plan to be a paperless classroom by the end of the school year and thus providing a model for other teachers to follow.
4. I will celebrate positive behaviors more often.
5. I will work closely with the school behavior specialist to curb inappropriate behavior in the bud before it becomes an issue.