School Culture and Discipline


We all share the goal of having well-behaved kids. As parents It makes our lives easier, and as educators good behavior is fundamental to our being able to teach.  But one parent's 'respectful' is another parent's 'rigid' and as we seek to build the ICS community finding ways to talk about and bridge these differences will be critical. I recently had a great conversation with a very dedicated educator. We talked about building a school's culture, and how this contributes as much to its success as anything we teach. Along those lines, she asked about the approach ICS will use for discipline.

She pointed out that for kids to care about learning, they have to care, period. About themselves first, and then others.

Ideally they learn to care from us, their parents.

Of course this is not the case for all children. Their homes are (or become) broken. We parents have troubles too. Our best efforts don't always work.

Schools play an important role in re-enforcing (or delivering) the message of caring.

ICS's character strength program is one way we'll teach children to care. Teachers sharing stories and pictures about literary and historical figures from around the world who have shown behaviors like respect, courage, empathy, persistence. Values like honesty and kindess.

But our discipline program is another way the message of caring gets delivered.

We're excited about a Responsive Classroom, a program that's been used in a number of New York schools, both charter and public.  At the core of RC is the idea that children learn best when they have both academic and social-emotional skills.  Also interesting is RULER, a program that helps children build vocabulary to talk about their feelings. Together the two offer many good points for us to consider as we develop our model.

Our efforts to create classrooms that work academically and emotionally can pay huge dividends.  In the Wall Street Journal this weekend actor David Duchovney shares how his high school basketball coach taught "a reserved, scared, outwardly blasé teenager" that it's ok for men to care:

Coach Byrnes told me I was worthwhile and good and that we could win. He talked to me as if I were someone worth telling a story about, subtly enjoining me to become active in that story. My father was mostly gone by then, and now here was a man who respected me by demanding that I respect myself and a game. I never knew if he liked me. That wasn't so important. He saw potential in me, and I began to respect myself.

What are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear.