Day 160 (of 185) Rules. #blog4MH
What is the ‘bottom line’? Well, it depends. Depends on the who, what, where, when, how and Why. And it depends on the day….and the day before…and what the bottom line is today, may be different tomorrow….but I always follow the guidelines of having our learning community be safe, respectful and responsible.
Frustrating? Yep…sometimes. But I firmly believe that while it is easy to focus on consequencing behaviours, it doesn’t do anything to authentically change the behaviours….if it did there would be no re-offenders in our prisons (and that’s another deep issue that could be talked about). So it’s more meaningful (and time consuming) to focus on what led to the behaviours to understand ‘why’ they happened. But schools are a place where we always want to have some clearly established expectations – and we conduct (provincial) surveys asking students if they feel that they understand what is expected of them….and those expectations lead to something that can have hours of debate and discussion and desire to “enforce or rethink” them: rules.
But rules are a common frustration. I recently read a twitter share about “a favourite cell phone policy”: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2017/this-is-my-favorite-cell-phone-policy/
and it made me think about “my rules”. I believe that “my office” is a place where we solve problems (so most/all of my ‘rules’ don’t have further consequences in there – you can swear, vent, or have quiet time – or background music; choose lights on or off, because we will work on finding a way to start to solve the problem) so I try to keep them simple enough that they can be enforced in a meaningful way and ebb and flow as necessary:
Dress Code: Outer wear must cover underwear. And as much as I can support the common culture request of ‘no hats’, I did blog earlier that sometimes I like hats and hoodies because they are the easiest way to identify who might need a connection.
Tech/Cell/Books: aka Tool or Toy? Tools enhance learning, Toys distract learning (and as one grade 4 pointed out to me when she responded that she was using her device as a ‘toy’ – because I am frustrated with what is going on with ___ and the classroom, I need to distract myself to calm down – and 5 minutes later she was back on focus)
Learning: Consuming or Creating? I want o make sure there is a balance – and a quiet room can be of concern to me as much as a bit of a ruckus.
Swearing: depends on the context. I remember seeing one of my principals in a fast walk down the hall, so I immediately followed along to find out what the issue was – and it was a child who used some inappropriate language……and I asked, ‘what else….’ and then I realized….the school culture I had been at had a wide berth for what was ‘acceptable language’…..so I try to remind people that at school, we have kindergarteners so we need to use language that is okay for them to hear and use….and more often than not, I’ve noticed bad language as an attempt to distract from the first issue that got unwanted attention….
Drugs and Fighting: Rarely do either of these happen in isolation. And too often they are the visible part of a much deeper (iceberg metaphor) issue that is tougher to find and identify and support. And so often this connects with mental wellness (fight flight freeze fawn) where it is easier to lash out or seek a chemical escape.
Suspensions: I use these differently. Usually when we need time & space to enable more information to be found and learned and a plan to be worked on. I’m more of a fan for in-school ‘suspensions’ so that we can actually work on a plan….I’ve rarely seen sending a child home for a bunch of days to have any change upon return….but I have seen the ‘time and space’ enable supports to be able to be put in place for a return….so it’s a mindful use of this tool….especially when many students working with mental wellness challenges figure out that they can start “missing school” by convincing their parents how rough it is at school…or by trying to convince the school that they don’t want a learner “like that” inside their walls…
And I regularly think back to early in my career when a story was shared about four students all being caught for the same infraction all received different “consequences”….and it makes sense that sometimes rules, like learning aren’t effective nor affective when they are one-size-fits-all. So the ‘bottom line’…..depends