When dealing with student behaviour that is unacceptable, we at Mundaring Christian College choose guidance with grace.
It does not mean a lack of consequences for wrongdoing or weak discipline. It means teachers care enough to come alongside students to help and support them in an area of need: behaviour in this case. Teachers will show disappointment, impose consequences and hold students accountable, but without the aim to merely be punitive. The goal will always be to get the student, who has misbehaved, back on track, and to point them in the right direction.
Sometimes students will need the discomfort of consequences to convince them to make better choices, but even firm discipline can be put in place without harshness or shame. In a relationship of trust, where students are treated as people by teachers, we see that students, most of the time, understand that we are trying to help. They respond by accepting the consequence as just and fair, once it is discussed in a calm and rational environment. Reflection on behaviour and strategies to support appropriately are put in place with care and encouragement.
We believe it is important when dealing with misbehaving students not to be reactive, driven by emotions or to merely focus on exterminating bad behavior. We believe we can create an opportunity to redirect when we build relational trust. When we get to know the student well enough to understand what motivates the behaviour it allows us to choose strategies to treat the cause rather than just the symptoms. Harshness encourages students to erect barriers and justify choices, but gentleness encourages them to take responsibility and develop remorse and empathy. Forgiveness allows students to have the hope to have a fresh start. We listen, we encourage students to think, and in time reshape attitude, social and emotional understanding, and behaviour.
All our staff is part of this plan, our teachers, our educational assistants, our admin staff, our chaplain, our counselor and the leadership team: All in strong partnership with parents. We don’t broadcast how we work with students and their parents, but those involved know that we care. Some of our students struggle with reading, others with maths, and some with behavior. We want to be the school that helps all students to be the best they can be. In Romans 12:2 it refers to the renewing of the mind and the transformation it can bring. We believe in encouraging a change of heart, to redirect, rather than just being reactive.
For further reading on this topic: ‘Beyond Control: Heart-centered Classroom Climate and Discipline’ by Alan Bandstra (2014).
Mrs Antoinette Wilson (Head of Primary)