Positive Behaviours Education06/03/2020
As a College we have committed to the implementation of School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support. The program, used by all other Sandhurst Catholic Schools, has a focus on explicitly teaching the behaviours that we wish to see and have in all our students.
A College Implementation Team is meeting fortnightly with the support of the CEO Sandhurst to roll out the program over the next 3–5 years and will continue to update families as progress is achieved.
Mr Len Watson & Mr Matthew Smith, Pastoral Care Directors
School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS)
PHILOSOPHY AND PURPOSE
1. The Traditional View of Discipline
For the most part, our approaches to school discipline are still based on the punitive and exclusionary policies developed when public education began in the early 1900s and schools were oriented toward the academically inclined and socially acceptable. Today, the child at the schoolhouse door has created a swing in the balance of power in schools and classrooms. While the teacher’s authority was once taken virtually for granted, now teachers are confronted with students who challenge that authority. A resulting focus or greater emphasis on maintaining control has led to an increasingly reactive and often punitive approach.
2. Punishment as an ineffective and potentially harmful learning tool
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, schools have a long history of being exclusive. Discipline policies act as a means to weed out students less able, less motivated, or poorly behaved. When educators are asked to define discipline, the most common response is “punishment for rule-breaking behaviour.” Schools develop lists of prohibitive rules and a series of increasingly severe punishments for violators of these rules. Unfortunately, such punitive view of discipline results in approaches that have questionable, if not harmful, effects (Skiba & Peterson, 2000; U.S. Department of Education, 2014). Punishment focuses on what not to do, does not teach desired behaviours, can damage relationships, impedes learning, and leads to students dropping out of school. Some educators feel that these punitive and exclusionary practices have served them well to eliminate irritating and unnecessary intrusions to their teaching agendas. Many believe that students know the right way to behave, that their behaviour is a performance deficit and that they have the skills but are merely choosing defiance or insubordination. They therefore assume that punishment will bring a halt to the problem behaviour and the student will behave appropriately.
3. The student’s fullest potential
In reality, punishments satisfy the punisher, but have little lasting effect on the punished (Losen, 2011). These exclusionary approaches are in direct conflict with school missions to help all students achieve their fullest potential – “to have life abundantly and to the fullest” (John 10:10). Our punitive policies fail the very students they target (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).
4. Discipline is Teaching and Learning
As we seek to ensure inclusive learning environments, our attitudes regarding discipline must change. Is discipline concerned with punishing misconduct or with preventing it? According to Webster’s dictionary, discipline comes from the Latin word “disciplina” which means teaching and learning. Moreover, it states that it is a focus on prevention, and it is “instruction that corrects, moulds or perfects character and develops self-control.” Furthermore, it states that it is “training that is expected to produce a specified character pattern of behaviour.” Therefore, for students to meet their school’s behaviour expectations, those behaviours need to be explicitly taught and positively reinforced and affirmed when students behave as expected.
5. Social competency and emotional literacy
Reaching today’s students requires a teaching focus – teaching students how to be successful and behave responsibly in school. This is based on the belief that social behaviour is learned, therefore it can be taught. Students can be taught socially acceptable and emotionally literate ways of behaving just as one would teach any academic subject. Discipline should be based on the very same instructional concepts used to facilitate academic learning. Direct instruction in social behaviours and emotional literacy can be provided to students, and practice, encouragement, and correction given as needed. And just as with academics, when behaviour problems are complex or chronic, specialized interventions and supports or intensive teaching arrangements may be necessary.