My philosophy of discipline resolution is derived from my overall philosophy of education.
School Culture As an administrator, particularly one that is responsible for discipline, I hold the unique responsibility and privilege of shaping our school's culture. I aim to create a school culture that provides a positive learning environment for students. It should be welcoming, safe, orderly, student-centered, learning-centered, communicates high expectations, and values growth mindsets. Moreover, I believe that every individual should take responsibility and be actively involved in shaping a positive school culture, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents, and community members. This requires collaboration and feedback in order to determine the best school-wide as well as individual decisions. Finally, by establishing school-wide structures for discipline and instruction, I can support a consistent and cohesive environment. In order to do so, I must make discipline decisions that are logical, appropriate, consistent, and instructive.
Relationships First People don't care what you know until they know that you care. Effective discipline starts before students misbehave. Relationships are key and must be carefully built with students, parents, school and district employees, and other stakeholders and community resources. The school must establish clear behavioral and academic expectations, with the assumption that students will meet them. Finally, clear discipline policies must be outlined in order to inform and guide future actions. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) help encourage students to make positive choices that support their school environment and communicate the message of "do" instead of and before sending the message of "do not". In addition to these, there must be school-wide and community-wide engagement with stakeholders. We show students that we care by valuing them and providing them a quality, student-centered educational experience. We show parents that we care by involving them in their children's education, maintaining clear and consistent communication, and providing resources and education to better help them support their children. Finally, we show school employees that we care by listening to their concerns and valuing their input as well as providing the supports and training that they need in order to effectively serve the students they work with.
What is best for students? Above all, educators must be committed to doing what is best for students at all times and under any circumstances. This concern can take the form of many questions when making disciplinary decisions. First, I must ask, "What will best help this student make positive choices in the future?" Students are a work in progress, and discipline is an opportunity to help them reach their full potential, including their behavioral choices. I must also ask, "What is best for this student's education?" Usually, removal from the classroom or from the school is not only harmful to that student's education but also unnecessary. As an administrator, I must think outside the box to come up with solutions that will help the student continue growing both behaviorally as well as academically. However, there are times when the interests of the individual student are at odds with the interests of other students around them, in which case removal may be the best option to serve the needs of all students. Finally, I must also ask myself, "What will best enable faculty and staff to continue to serve students?" Likewise, I must also consider whether they should be involved in the disciplinary process and at what level. At times, I may also need to consider if additional training or professional development might be necessary for faculty and staff to best serve students.
Diversification and Equity Students are divers and are entitled to a diversified, equitable education. Consistent and fair enforcement of the rules is critical to an effective school-wide discipline plan. However, how the rules are enforced can and should be personalized to individual students and situations. Rather than striving for equal resolution, I must strive for equitable discipline. I must pay special attention to special populations, such as race and disabilities, and examine disciplinary data to ensure that students have an equitable educational experience. If this is not the case, I must investigate why and resolve the discrepancies. Support structures for students should be in place, especially regarding communication between stakeholders such as the students, parents, and community services, and the school and home environments should be examined to determine whether they are helping support positive behavior. Discipline must be holistic, addressing the social and emotional needs as well as the academic and behavioral needs. Finally, the rights of all students must be protected, which again may sometimes require weighing the rights of an individual with the rights of those around the individual.
Success motivates Nothing motivates students like success. Students must play an active role in their education, including disciplinary situations. By setting up students for participatory success, I will set them up for independently making positive decisions in the future and becoming productive citizens. Thus, discipline must look forward rather than backward. Consequences must be logically and reasonably connected to the behaviors as well as personalized for the individual student. Rather than being punitive, consequences should be geared toward teaching the student and helping him or her grow. When determining key questions that should be asked are, "What policies or precedents apply?", "How can the situation be rectified?", and "In the future, what must happen differently in order to avoid repeat behaviors?" These can all be best answered and students best served when discipline is founded upon positive relationships with students and stakeholders. Finally, consequences are balanced with encouragement through PBIS to teach students to do the right things instead of choosing alternative behaviors.
Lifelong Learning Educators and students must become lifelong learners. Students will make mistakes. However, those mistakes do not define the student or who they will become. Educators must model a growth mindset for students and treat them in a manner that teachers students to do better. We do this by looking forward rather than backward, both with ourselves and for the students that we serve. Mistakes should be acknowledged and dealt with appropriately, but the most important aspect of discipline is that students (and adults) learn from those mistakes. In order to best facilitate this learning-centered environment, I prioritize transparency, communication, and my goals for continuous improvement.