If it doesn’t work, change it!

It’s time to change something!

Changing in mid-stride

This past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with a few students in the MY and HS who have hit the mid-year wall. They’ve fallen behind in assignments, aren’t really interested in redoing anything and just have a “mad” on. One of them ended up in my office today. It was another case of trying to get into a confrontation. At our school, we are working to not confront students but invite them to join, request them to stop, ask them to participate and generally not in any way create a lose/lose situation. Now, I need to clarify that this is a HUGE transformation from just one year ago when we were suspending, on average 3 students a week for behaviour related issues and had a noon-hour detention that was FULL with students not completing work and not doing what was asked. There were several times at the beginning of the yar that I witnessed teachers yelling at students and all out shouting by students and teachers. Thus far, we have suspended 3 students for behaviour related issues and our referrals to the office have been reduced by approximately 80%.(I don’t have any hard facts or numbers on hand but it wouldn’t take me long to find out for those who wonder about this.)

This transformation is  related to our vision of “Doing what is best for students.” This is how we begin each meeting and each discussion about/with students. We have made it clear that it is not acceptable to belittle students or to engage in an argument with them, that they cannot be “written off” or amortized over time; ignored or avoided because they cause us to feel discomfort, we will contact parents, talk to them about our concerns and, when they “turn it around” tell them of the successes. We’ve told our public and our parents that we will “Do what is best for students.” so that they will hold us accountable – which can be very difficult especially in certain situations. We are learning and growing and our next step is to have students, parents and staff work together to create a Code of Conduct that will guide the actions of all people who enter.

One Small Step

So today, instead of beginning with the “incident”, I began by asking what this young man wanted to do when he was done school. Simple question. Then I waited. Asked more questions, listened and we began to discuss things other than “the incident”. This led to some discussion about his actions over the past little while and his responsibility in the actions. We examined the things that he found frustrating and I explained, best I could, some of the frustrations we were experiencing. It was a 45 minute discussion. At the end, all I did was ask him to give himself a chance to be successful but to “not kick the dog because he was mad”. He laughed, told me he got it. He left and went to class. From all reports, it was a good afternoon.

What are your experiences and successes when it comes to changing attitudes and culture? What insights or stories can you share?

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