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Citizenship: The ACS Athens 3R's
At ACS Athens Elementary School, we are committed to an ethic rooted in deep caring. It is our philosophy that any disciplinary actions or interventions should be grounded in the idea that the purpose of that intervention should be to hold students accountable for their behavior and ultimately change the behavior rather than administer "punishment".
In this way, we work with students in a Positive Behavior Support model so that they may become managers of their own attitudes and actions. This is taught and reinforced through the ACS Athens 3R’s:
- Be Respectful
- Be Responsible, and
- Be Ready
We discuss with students how they can become better students and cooperative members of our community through respect (of ourselves, each other, and the world around us), responsibility, and readiness. These characteristics are discussed within the classroom as well as in school-wide assemblies, and reinforced on a daily basis within the context of a school-wide program.
Giving Life to Learning
At ACS Athens Elementary School, we believe in restorative justice, meaning that anyone who makes a mistake, creates mischief or causes mayhem should given the opportunity to "make it right" again. Offenses are categorized according to severity into mistakes, mischief and mayhem, and the same four-step process is followed:
- Own it. Accepting responsibility for the action
- Fix it. Figuring out a plan for how to make the situation "right"
- Learn from it. Within every action and choice, we have an opportunity to learn how to better handle a situation differently in the future
- Move on. We recognize that we are not the sum total of our mistakes, and once we own it, fix it, and learn from it, we also have the opportunity to move on from it
If a child makes a mistake or an inappropriate choice, they will be given the opportunity to own it, fix it, learn from it and then move one.
If a child creates mischief, they will be given the opportunity to follow the usual process. However, since mischief involves intent, there must be more active commitment on the part of the child to make sure the mischievous actions do not happen again.
Since mayhem involves intent to cause harm or to purposely hurt ourselves or others, there is an obligation and there must be commitment to go through the full process of restorative justice:
- Restitution: own and fix what was done to the best of our ability
- Resolution: to figure out what was behind the intent to harm or hurt and remedy that; to find constructive ways to keep it from happening again
- Reconciliation: to heal with the person who was harmed to the best of our ability
For more information about this philosophy, please see the book "Kids are Worth it!" (Harper Collins, 2010)
Levels of Disciplinary Response
If a student requires intervention from the Citizenship Coordinator for serious or repeated mean and/or disruptive behaviors to the learning environment, along with the above steps for mayhem the following consequences will occur:
- First Referral: Student meets with the Citizenship Coordinator; consequences that are RSVP (reasonable, simple, valuable, and practical) commensurate with the action are given at the discretion of the Citizenship Coordinator (Record kept of all incidents).
- Second Referral: Student meets with the Citizenship Coordinator; consequences that are RSVP (reasonable, simple, valuable, and practical) commensurate with the action are given at the discretion of the Citizenship Coordinator (Record kept of all incidents.) Parent is notified. Reflection is required signed by parent.
- Third Referral: Meeting with parents and student at school
- Fourth Referral: In-school reflection day
- Fifth Referral: Out-of-school suspension
- Serious Offenses: The school has a no-tolerance policy for specific serious offences that include fighting, possession of weapons, destruction of school or personal property, vulgar/inappropriate language or behavior, leaving campus without permission, or stealing. In such cases the student may be sent home from school for the day. According to the severity of the offense, the student may also be suspended or withdrawn from our school.
- The Break Room: It is a multipurpose room that aims at accommodating the specific needs of individual students. The Break Room can be therefore used as
- A place for behavioral intervention. The student may be asked to spend part of the school day in the room in order to reflect. In some cases, the student may be asked to complete class work there.
- A place where students can take a break.
- A place for guided learning.
Strategies for Promoting Positive Behavior
Research shows that positive relationships help children learn (American Psychological Association and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2014). When our homes, schools, and communities are free from fear, anger, and other distractions, students are more likely to succeed and develop as whole human beings. In support of the Giving Life to Learning approach as stated above, classroom teachers and school community members use a variety of other strategies to promote the positive behaviors that set a scaffold for children to: care deeply, share generously, and give willingly. They include: positive reinforcement, specific praise, class meetings, assemblies, reflective listening by adults on campus in order to let children know they are heard and understood, and timely communication and partnership with parents.