School Policies and Educational Practices   — Latest version as of 2010-04-17 17:44:10

School Policies and Educational Practices

Choice

This is not the freedom to do anything or nothing. Although choice is an integral part of what we do, there are times when adults have to make decisions for children. In providing a variety of options, we encourage and work with the children to take on a hard job or task, not just stick with what is comfortable for them. We help children to recognize and do their personal best, and to take responsibility for these choices and actions.

We give children limited and productive choice. Within this structure, children learn to know themselves and to choose well for themselves. Through developing self-knowledge and confidence, children grow as learners and independent individuals.

We provide more structure and support for the less independent children. We begin providing structures that children need in order to build bridges to the next step in independence. In the beginning, simple routines and clarity help children feel more comfortable in making choices.

For example, some of the ways we support children in writing might be:

  • Document a range of choices to write about
  • Have a routine for writing time
  • Establish individual, step-by-step routines for certain children who need them
  • Look at what an individual child needs to feel in control and provide that assistance.

Children also need to learn how to make good decisions as members of a group, for that group. They need to pull together to help each other. We foster this collaboration by enabling children to share their work with others and to participate in small group work and whole group discussions. By building a positive environment for learning from and with others, children develop a capacity to collaborate with others.

We want children to feel proud about themselves as individuals, about who and what they are. We do not want to point or steer them in uncomfortable directions. However, children are constantly barraged with gender and cultural images that are stereotyped and restrictive. Therefore we sometimes do not accept children’s choices at face value. When children cut themselves off from experiences for gender reasons, we need to question that choice, whether it be a girl not participating in sports or a boy not entering the dramatic play area.

All children should play with blocks and paint, experiment with and experience the range of materials and activities in the classroom. We do not want children to be limited by being timid or anxious about new or unknown experiences. We consciously help children to participate when they are hesitant or afraid. We consciously question stereotypes and choices that are binding. Our goal is to have children fully participate and develop their potential in all areas; even those which are traditionally gender-based such as spatial, artistic, interpersonal and athletic skills. We do not set up activities or routines in which boys or girls are separated as groups.

Discipline Policy

We envision our school as a learning community that treats children and adults with respect and kindness. We see our children taking their places in the world as empowered adults who can make good choices in their lives, good changes in the world and work well with others in their occupational and social communities.

We depend on adults to be role models and facilitators in their relations with each other and with children. For instance, if a parent has an issue with the behavior of another child or parent, the appropriate action is to discuss the matter with the classroom teacher and if necessary with the principal.

We define discipline as helping children develop self-control and self-motivation and keeping a safe environment for children. These are integral parts of the curriculum and are grounded in the practices of the school. We work to maintain a safe physical and emotional environment where youngsters and grown-ups can ask questions and be vulnerable, where we can expose ourselves in trying to learn and improve.

We want children to value diversity of ideas, develop compassion and the ability to see themselves in another’s shoes. These qualities are progressive – their development comes experience.

Discipline Policy

We envision our school as a learning community that treats children and adults with respect and kindness. We see our children taking their places in the world as empowered adults who can make good choices in their lives, good changes in the world and work well with others in their occupational and social communities.

We depend on adults to be role models and facilitators in their relations with each other and with children. For instance, if a parent has an issue with the behavior of another child or parent, the appropriate action is to discuss the matter with the classroom teacher and if necessary with the principal.

We define discipline as helping children develop self-control and self-motivation and keeping a safe environment for children. These are integral parts of the curriculum and are grounded in the practices of the school. We work to maintain a safe physical and emotional environment where youngsters and grown-ups can ask questions and be vulnerable, where we can expose ourselves in trying to learn and improve. We want children to value diversity of ideas, develop compassion and the ability to see themselves in another’s shoes. These qualities are progressive – their development comes experience.

Standards and Expectations

Over the course of a child’s life in school we are looking for progress, moving from the need for external assistance to the development of internal control and productive participation. Children want to do what is appropriate. We help them to achieve that.

When a specific problem arises between children, we help children talk about the problem, including what happened, how they could have solved it in a more productive way and how they can act in the future. Children and adults have the right not to be afraid, not to be threatened either physically or verbally.

All of the following are ways in which the learning community can be threatened.

Unacceptable behaviors

  • Teasing
  • Aggressive verbal behavior—cursing and other threatening or abusive speech to children or adults in our community or the larger community (this may include racial or sexual comments)
  • Hitting or other physically aggressive acts
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Dangerous behavior—our concern is not only when a child might hurt others but also when she/he puts herself/himself in an unsafe situation as well, for example: hiding in the yard or classroom, climbing bathroom stalls
  • Misuse of materials or other people’s property
  • Stealing, defacing school or personal property.

Consequences

For each unacceptable behavior there is a range of consequences and actions a teacher will take. This is dependent on the frequency of this behavior, progress of the child, age of the child and severity of the behavior. We look at which consequences will have meaning for this child. For instance, in Pre-K/K, even though we take hitting very seriously, we may not always think that being sent home is the most productive of the array of consequences.

Consequences include:

  • Temporarily removing a child from a difficult situation within the class
  • Speaking to the child individually
  • Holding a group discussion
  • Sending the child to another class
  • Sending the child to the office
  • Informing parent of behavior
  • Discussion with parent and setting up a plan of action with a parent, articulating what “progress” is
  • Discussion with other school personnel
  • Formal meeting with principal, teacher and parents
  • Discussing and initiating other support systems
  • Guidance hearing
  • Suspension
  • Replacement of property or reimbursement

Each of these consequences is within Board of Education guidelines. Discipline is a process. We look at the information we have about the child along with everything else we know in planning how to support the child.

Before dealing with a situation, children need to be in control of themselves. A child may need to be soothed or calmed down. This may mean time out or a hug; whatever will help a child to be able to face a problem rationally. Each problem will be and is dealt with, although it may not be apparent at the time.

The steps we take are to:

  1. Restore a sense of safety and bring people into self control
  2. Deal with inappropriate behavior.

When a child is violently out of control, the parent will be contacted and will be expected to take the child home. Above Pre-K/K, parents will also be contacted and asked to take their child home when a child hits or is otherwise abusive to a teacher. Verbal abuse or acting violently towards adults will never be tolerated in our school. A range of consequences may be applied when a child behaves in this way. Adults who are abusive will be barred from entering the school beyond the security desk.

The specific situation would dictate which consequences would be used, revisited or skipped. Our goal is to help each child develop her/his own resources.

We want the outcome of the consequences to reinforce not only the essence of what is unacceptable to the group but how one’s behavior impacts on the group and on oneself. Therefore, a consequence to inappropriate behavior at recess would not be only to miss recess but also to discuss the behavior and alternatives.

Upon occasion, though it happens infrequently, a child exhibits a pattern of behavior that is highly threatening to the values or safety of the community. In these cases, suspension sends the most extreme message that this behavior is intolerable.

What happens with children who need extra help, who do not progress adequately or show interest in being a member of the community. We look at why this is happening and what is causing it. Our resources for finding out include the child, teachers, family and our observations. We initiate planning and problem-solving meetings with the family. Each meeting will end with a written statement of what was discussed and agreed upon, what actions each party is taking and when the next meeting will be held.

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