Recently, I had a conversation with a few parents who asked me about FSM’s expectations for student behavior. I think it might be helpful to share what we work toward as a school, regarding behavior.
Not surprisingly, there is a wide range of behavior at FSM. We know that children come from different family settings and norms in terms of what is acceptable behavior at home. We understand that for all children, learning to behave in ways that respect themselves and others is a process.
Our approach is described in the “discipline policy” below, and is guided by the four school rules. These rules are intentionally broad, because we believe it is important for children to grasp the underlying reasons for behaving appropriately as much as actually “doing” the behavior. To this end, we help students reflect on their behavior and its impact on others.
Sometimes students believe that to “question authority” means they can do so without respect. That is not what we believe or attempt to teach at Friends. We know that respect is critical to true communication.
This year we have made behavior management a focus of staff professional development. We have had experts come in, we have taken a model and are trying it out at our school in small ways, and we are discussing our intentions and our efficacy related to behavior. We have agreed to make sure we are helping students and their parents understand the expectations for respectful behavior at FSM.
- Respect yourself. Respect other people. Respect your surroundings.
- Use words to solve problems.
- Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.
- Follow the directions of adults at school.
Friends School of Minnesota Discipline Policy
The goal of Friends School’s discipline philosophy, rooted in our mission, is to assist children in learning how to balance personal freedom and responsibility to community. A child who embraces life, learning, and community with understanding is a child whose actions are grounded in a strong sense of empathy and who is conscious of the effects of his or her actions on others.
A number of components work together to guide student behavior at FSM, including our policies and procedures, our school culture, and our conflict resolution program. It is important to recognize that the school’s conflict resolution program is distinct from the school’s discipline policy. Conflict resolution is a key component of our school culture and an essential part of the response to most discipline issues—but it is not the discipline policy itself.
A simple concept guides teachers’ response to misbehavior in the classroom—remind, redirect, and remove. First, a teacher discreetly reminds a student of the rule being broken. If this does not end the behavior the student is gently redirected by, for example, being asked to work in another location or with a different partner. If the behavior continues, removal occurs. Removal might be a few minutes in the hallway with the student using this time to return to his or her best self. It might also mean meeting with the assistant head or the head of school. This response protects the classroom community, allows students to take responsibility for their behavior, and helps students see how their behavior affects the classroom community.
Should remind, redirect, and remove prove to be ineffective, the school requests parent involvement. Informal support from home often improves behavior, but a more formal behavior plan can also be used to provide structured feedback and communication. FSM’s response is individualized to the student’s need.
There is no one best way to respond to student misbehavior. Sometimes communication between school and parent can lead to the discovery of a disability and/or psychological need that requires attention. Sometimes there is stress in a student’s life, and when the stress diminishes the behavior changes. Sometimes the behavior does not change sufficiently and the school may need a student to leave the school at the end of the year, or even be expelled before the year is finished. What FSM values most is communication and collaboration with families so that all student challenges can be addressed with sensitivity and insight.
– Lili Head of School