Have the rules changed this year? No, the rules haven't changed. We have incorporated them into a set of universals that tell us what it means to have Irish Pride and be a student at Our Lady of Lourdes School. These universals are summed up in our Student Learning Expectations. We are respectful. We are responsible. We are compassionate. We are honest. We carry our values and our faith with us, no matter where we are. We strive for excellence in Mind, Heart and Hands. What these universals look like and sound like varies from one school setting to another. Being respectful looks and sounds differently in the classroom than it does at recess.
What are refocus sheets?
When a student chooses not to follow the rules, they are reminded of the reason for the rule and given the opportunity to make a better choice. If they persist in their bad choice, they receive a refocus sheet and they are asked to leave the room. Each teacher has a specific "refocusing partner". The student reports to that room. The refocus sheet must be filled out and accepted by the issuing teacher before the student can return to class. At Middle School, refocus sheets are seldom necessary although discussions about better choices and setting good example can be quite common.
Demerits are used in Middle School. When a student earns their fifth demerit, they must serve detention on Wednesday, after school. Detention lasts for 45 minutes and consists of sitting at a desk, hands folded, feet flat on the floor. Yes, it's unpleasant and tiring.
This sounds like a very time consuming process, is it?
In reality, the refocus system provides the student with a few minutes of "time out". This allows them to extricate themselves with a minimum of embarrassment. It also means that the student always knows what lead to the consequence. Teaching the behavioral expectations does take some time at the beginning of the year but this eliminates the repetition and "I don't know what I did" problems later in the year. "Refocusing" expectations are also taught. Students with refocus sheets are ignored by students in the refocusing partner's classroom and they are away from their original classmates. This means that their negative choices earn them a minimum of attention.
Why Time To Teach, Virtues and Universals? The staff wanted a way to improve consistency of discipline throughout the school. By designating "shared areas" (lunchroom, hall, dismissal, Mass etc) we were able to decide on behavioral expectations that all the staff would teach, model, and monitor. If we expect our students to behave in a certain way, we must teach these expectations to them. Of course differing grade levels mean that some expectations vary from one classroom to the next. Time To Teach accommodates these differences because the routines are based on the "needs" of students and teachers. For example, classes need to move through the hall very quietly because other students are working. Universals allow us to show the students that, while routines may vary from setting to setting, the need for the routines remains the same. The requirement to show Irish Pride - to be respectful, responsible, compassionate, and honest - does not change. Irish Pride and our Student Learning Expectations are what makes us unique as a school community. Weaving virtues into the discussion allows students to examine their actions from the perspective of someone else; to ask and answer questions like: What made you say/do this? Who was affected by your words/actions? What do we need to do to make it right? How can I (the teacher) help you to make a better choice in the future?
What happens if I mess up big time? All choices have consequences that are a natural result of the choice that was made. These consequences vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the choice. Concentrate on living up to the ideals of Irish Pride - Ask yourself if your choice shows respect, responsibility, compassion and honesty before you make it - and the consequences will take care of themselves.
What is the benching policy? Benching can apply to any extra-curricular activity. Those families with students participating in the Sports program receive a written description of the benching rules. In a nutshell, students will be placed on probation and subject to weekly average checks if their grades fall below 73% in any subject. If the grades are below 73% but above 65% students may attend practices but may not participate games. If the grades are below 65% students may not participate in practices or games. Once the grades have returned to above 73%, students may participate fully in extra-curricular activities. Students can be benched for reasons other than academic progress and those benching periods can be of different lengths depending on the situation.