School Discipline Binds Us All

Latest News Thursday, 17 Sep 2020

Discipline, not punishment, is one of the more important aspects to the functioning of a school. In fact, as the diagram herein demonstrates, Good Disciplinary Climate is one of the hallmarks of great schools along with: 

  • Leadership 
  • Effective classroom management 
  • Quality teaching 
  • Strong teacher student relations
  • Sense of belonging 

What do we mean by discipline? This word is often used interchangeably with ‘punishment’ but they are entirely different concepts. 

A good disciplinary climate may reference:

  • Discipline in manners
  • Discipline in routines around the school
  • Arriving to school on time
  • Wearing uniforms correctly and taking pride in the uniform 
  • Correct grooming and taking pride in grooming
  • Adhering to school rules and practices
  • Strategies and practices to promote positive student behaviour, including specific strategies to maintain a climate of respect.
  • Strategies and practices to recognise and reinforce student achievement.
  • Strategies and practices to manage inappropriate student behaviour

It makes good sense to the majority of people and yet, when good disciplinary policy intersects with a parent’s belief system it can sometimes go awry. Take for example the person who would like their son/daughter to wear whatever jewellery s/he wants as it is an expression of him/herself. This runs counter to what’s in the common good interest. 

For some, individual freedoms and rights trump communitarian responsibilities but schools cannot operate this way. Schools must enforce simple discipline codes as it bonds us all and makes the job of teaching and learning our focus rather than managing unorthodox personal beliefs. The contagion effect of one student who steps outside of this is concerning. If one sees that another can get away with it then why shouldn’t s/he? 

I have asked the staff to monitor school dress code, boys’ hair length, wearing of jewellery, hair tied back etc. These are not quaint hang-ups of a bygone era, rather, simple ways in which we can all be a part of the ‘team’. 

I often ask the children why it is that some of our most esteemed teams all arrive on game day wearing the same outfit. What if one wore blue socks instead of the team regulated red? What if one chose to wear a different but similarly coloured jersey? The old adage holds true today as good as it did yesterday – ‘you look good, you play well’.   

The following was our focus last year:

School Manners

  1. Greeting adults (teachers and visitors) as children pass them in public. This includes admin and cleaning staff. Children must use eye contact.
  2. Saying please and thank you on all occasions.
  3. Standing back from the door as adults pass through.
  4. Using appropriate telephone answering in the classroom – eg “Hello, Mr Levy’s classroom, this is ______________ speaking”
  5. Caring for property (siddur and belongings).

These simple steps help us to cohere around a common understanding of what matters to us all. The Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule) suggest that I am only directing my message to the minority however, it is worth reminding everyone. 

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