Sunday, August 7, 2011

Code of Conduct: Godfrey-Lee

Godfrey-Lee has several codes.  They begin with the code of ethics called the Rebel Code (named after their school nickname).  This highlights expectations of students to contribute positively to their school with responsibility, school pride, self pride, striving for excellence, good manners, listening, respect, sharing talents, and building community by being kind, courteous, and considerate to others. 

This is followed by a commitment: to support of student success by parents, to success by students, and to a successful learning environment by faculty/staff.  The commintment by parents and students basically states they will support appropriate behavior by following the Code of Student Conduct, attend school regularly, be respectful, communicate with school when important, support reading through lessons and newsletters, and support completion of homework.  The faculty/staff commit to a successful learning environment by providing a safe, positive learning environment that helps each student become responsible for his/her own learning, set high instructional standards and deliver a quality curriculum, communicate academic progress and attndeance, and help parents to support learning and positive behavior at home and at school.

Achievement of the goals of student, classroom, and school success is expected to be a result of collaborative efforts of commitment along with adherence to essential codes. 

Responsibility for good conduct ultimately rests on the students.  The Code of Student Conduct really covers everything that students could do to misbehave and what the consequences may be.  In fact, they are covered so well that a teacher should not have to cover the rules in class, provided the students have read/are aware of these rules, which I am sure they are.  The violations are numbered 1, 2, and 3 with an increase in severity as the number increases.  Consequences for violating attendance and rules are enforced by various methods from warnings, to reprimanding dialogue, to detention, Friday school session, suspension or expulsion. So, this school and the teachers participate in behavioral modification with consequences (punishment).  While a lot of school rules must be followed, the teacher runs the classroom and may use the type of classroom management as they see fit (as a system, as a community, as instruction).  School rules and the intervention strategies are at their disposal to control or modify behaviors when necessary.  Most #1 violations are implemented by the teacher, whereas #2 and #3 violations are handled by administrators or other staff. 

I was surprised by a few of the codes of conduct such as prohibition of note writing even during lunch and the no hand-holding rule. Bullying is a level 2 violation and I was glad to see that this included consequences for online bullying and defamation as well.  No cell phone cameras or other cameras are allowed (for protection of students and their identity) without permission from classroom teacher, however, cell phones for communication with parents are allowed, though time of use is very restricted.  It sounds like it is up to the teachers if they allow them in their classrooms for academic purposes--no mention of iPads. Godfrey-Lee is a closed campus (no one enters or leaves without permission and they also have to stay inside the lunchroom until lunch hour is finished) and hall passes are required.  I was glad to see that students have an agenda book where they list all assignments to keep themselves organized.  This agenda book also serves as the hall pass where I assume that the teacher signs it for permission.

While each classroom may choose its own management style, the school itself also implements a reward and punishment system.  A specific example is that of senior privileges.  Seniors in good standing may be awarded open campus during their lunch period and may register for a reduced class load (above 4 classes).  In addition, there are those who can get a senior honor card with a GPA of 3.25 or higher and completed at least 22.5 trimester credits by the start of the senior year, has maintained a good discipline and attendance record, and has no indebtedness to the school or cafeteria.  The card allows these seniors to 1) call themselves in for all-day absences, 2) sign themselves out for scheduled appointments, 3) park in the staff parking area in front of the school, 4) enter the school bldg. in the morning prior to official opening time and remain in the school after the time limit set for other students, 5) use their honor card as a hall pass, and 5) open campus lunch.  These privileges offer incentive to achieve higher academically and to be model students. This also teaches students to set long-term goals, and if they put in sufficient effort, they can be realized.

How does the district's plan relate to the model you feel most comfortable with?  I really like the code of ethics and how it is the first portion of the handbook, followed by student, parent, and teacher/staff commitment.  This shows a positive attitude and positive expectations first and foremost.  I like that I can run my classroom pretty much as I see fit, as long as the health (heart, body, and mind) of students is not endangered.  I like that there are codes of conduct with consequences readily accessable if my own classroom interventions or management as a system and as instruction are not enough.  Student safety and a positive, disruption free environment that is conducive to optimal learning are at the top of the list.  My model does not conflict with the school; I see it as my backup and supporting resource.

Based on the district policy from a student's perspective, I would say that the students could view the teacher and principal as having fairly equal power.  While the principal has the ultimate power, the students spend the most time with the teacher, and the teacher has the power to implement #1 violations and ultimately report them to the principal or other administrators.  They could also view the teacher as having a lot of knowledge about them that the principal is likely unaware of that the teacher could reveal later if the student continues to push the limits.  They could also place blame on the teacher for turning them in, thus having the perspective that the teacher had the power to send them to the punishments implemented by the school.  Honestly, it comes down to the individual student's perspective.  I came to this decision by trying to think like an adolescent would think.  They often want to blame someone else for their mistakes, and a teacher can be an easy target in this sense.  They will see the school and prinicipal as the big enforcers of the rules, but who will they see as the ultimate source of power for making them have to suffer the consequences?  It depends on the situation and student.

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