I am on a committee in a Junior High School (Grade 7-9) for the purpose of developing a code of conduct for the students to follow.
Some of the issues we wish to address:
I was hoping to get ideas from other schools and professionals to present to the committee members in preparing our own code of conduct.
Any help you can give would be appreciated.
Our book Positive Discipline in the Classroom addresses a school code of conduct directly and indirectly. I would like to start with your issue of giving/showing respect. We believe in mutual respect -- that it is equally important for teachers and all school personnel to show respect for students as well as visa versa. The most important way to show respect to students is to involve them in problem-solving. When students are involved in creating a code of conduct they have an investment in it and are motivated to cooperate.
Instead of consequences for negative behavior we have found it much more effective to allow students to use problems as an opportunity to learn problem-solving skills. I won't take the time or space to repeat the whole book here, but Positive Discipline in the Classroom includes the eight building blocksfor effective class meetings -- a process that answers all your questions. During class meetings students learn to "help each other" find non-punitive solutions to problems. Students feel empowered to improve their behavior when they are treated with respect, when they are listened to, and when they have their thoughts and ideas taken seriously and validated.
It is amazing what happens when teachers take the problem of behavior between classes (in the corridors) to students and ask them to develop guidelines -- or any other problem. Another useful book is, Positive Discipline A Teacher's A-Z Guide. The article you read about bus behavior is from that book. Following is another article about lunchroom behavior that illustrates the essence of what I'm trying to convey in answer to your questions. I'm sure you will see how the suggestions could be adapted to corridor behavior. The article gives suggestions for all ages of students, (the example of utensils being thrown in the trash was handled in a 7th grade class). Teachers can choose the suggestions that fit best for their grade level -- or adapt others.
I hope this helps, Mary, and that you will come to our home page often.
To "Do Lunch" means to let go of responsibilities, forget routine and to socialize extensively for a very short period of time. When the people who are "Doing Lunch" are students within a school, the potential for chaos is great. It is important to acknowledge that students need a break from their routine. It is also important that they learn to find a balance between relaxing and respecting others. Behavior in the lunchroom is a good indicator of the leadership style of school personnel. Misbehavior in the lunchroom could tell us that the leadership style is one of control. A controlling leadership style invites rebellion, resistance, and a lack of self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and social interest. Cooperative lunchroom behavior could tell us that the school personnel leadership style is democratic. A democratic leadership style invites students to learn self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and social interest.
- Anytime you see a problem behavior, simply ask the students involved what they are supposed to be doing according to the rules they helped create. (See No. 1 in Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems.) Often this is enough to motivate a student to change her behavior.
- Another possibility is to describe the behavior you see: "I notice you are throwing food. I notice you are yelling. I notice you did not pick up your trash." Then ask, "Can you correct this problem, or would you like to put the problem on the class meeting agenda for a discussion if you don't agree with the rules, or to get help from the class?"
- Admit that the behavior is a problem for you (such as loud shouting, shoving, running) even though it may not be a problem as far as the students are concerned. Ask the student if she would be willing to help you by working on a solution to the problem.
- When the noise level in a lunchroom is very high, we believe that we must speak in voice that competes with that noise. Rather than yelling, lean close to the student or students and speak in a soft tone of voice.
- Put all the students in the same boat. When a student at a table is throwing food, involve all of the students at that table in the clean up. "As soon as this table is cleaned up you may leave."
- Let the student table monitor handle the misbehavior. (Student table monitors should be trained in methods to gain cooperation respectfully, such as using the suggestions herein. Otherwise they may try to act like dictators and invite resistance and rebellion.)
- Hand a copy of the appropriate lunchroom behavior list to a table or student and ask them in a quiet voice to locate the misbehavior that they need to work on. Thank them for their cooperation.
- Use a class meeting to discuss problems with behavior in the lunchroom. Invite lunchroom aides to put items on the agenda and to be present for discussion and problem-solving.
PLANNING AHEAD TO PREVENT FUTURE PROBLEMS
- During a class meeting ask each class to brainstorm typical lunchroom problems and then create rules that will prevent or solve the problems. (We cannot emphasize enough how powerful it is to invite students to solve problems so they will feel respected and motivated to follow rules they have helped create.) Students enjoy role playing disrespectful lunchroom behavior followed by a role play of respectful behavior.
- Invite lunchroom personnel to visit class meetings and share their concerns and ask for help and solutions. Many students are not aware of how their behavior causes problems for others.
- To get students more involved in maintaining appropriate lunchroom behavior, introduce a system of students monitoring their own behavior. A position is created called a rotating monitor who ensures and respectfully motivates appropriate behavior and cleanup.
- Have students from the upper grades sit with younger classes to help monitor and teach proper lunchroom behavior.
- Acknowledge and validate your students need for relaxation and a break from their classroom routine. Share your own need for a lunch break. Balance this with a discussion of behavior which respects others and the property of the school.
- Don't expect perfection, but keep working for improvement. Whenever something doesn't work, or works only for a short time, put it back on the class meeting agenda so the kids can discuss it and work on another solution or renewed interest in their old solution.
CLASS MEETING SOLUTIONS
During a two-day Positive Discipline in the Classroom workshop at a Navajo Reservation School, the cafeteria personnel complained about the students throwing their utensils in the garbage barrels when they scraped their food trays. A representative from the cafeteria came to a 7th grade class meeting. The students offered several suggestions. The one they chose to implement was taking turns as utensil monitors at the garbage barrels.
After about a month they decided they no longer needed utensil monitors because the students were being more respectful of school property, and were no longer throwing utensils in the garbage.
Mrs. T., an aide working in the lunchroom, put an item on the agenda for Mr. Wong's fifth grade class meeting. She shared that she was frustrated because she was having to spend a great deal of time over by the fifth grade area because of their behavior and because of the mess they were making. Mr. Wong asked her if she would like some problem-solving help and have the students in the class come up with a solution to the problem. She agreed. The class brain stormed many ideas and voted to try one which appealed to them because it involved them more in the solution.
They chose to start a system in which a student monitor at each table would be responsible to help maintain order and to make sure that students did not leave the area until any messes were cleaned up. They decided to make this position one that rotated among the students seated at the table. They were excited about trying this and agreed to work with this system for a week and then report back at the class meeting. Mrs. T. came to their meeting one week later and was delighted to be able to talk with the students about the changes she had seen. She told them that she wanted them to share their system with other classes in the school. They immediately started making plans about how they would spread the word about the system they had created.