We believe that children are capable of developing strong personal integrity. It is our goal to help students develop a positive “moral compass.”
Agency, Choice and Accountability
At Almaden Country Day School, children are encouraged to make choices based on mutual respect, in an atmosphere of caring, with the knowledge that their actions will have consequences for themselves and for other people.
We value the role that agency (the ability to make one’s own choices), choice (actually making your own choices) and accountability (enjoying the real, natural benefits and consequences of our choices) play in developing morality. We help children develop their internal “moral compass” by teaching strategies designed to create positive relationships.
These principles can only work when children understand what behavior is expected of them and when they are free to experience the attending benefits or consequences in a consistent way. Creating an environment of clear expectations, respect for free agency and consistent accountability is among the most important (and most difficult) work we do as parents and teachers. However, we can never expect, nor should we want, to command children in all things. Rather, we need to teach children correct principles and let them govern themselves within developmentally appropriate limits.
We recognize that children often experiment with behaviors, some are testing the limits, others are expressing an emotional need, or they may truly believe that the choice they made was correct.
In dealing with children who display misbehavior, we look for the opportunity to teach positive alternative behavior. Consequences for misbehavior focus on long-range results and not short-term punishment.
Children are directly involved in exploring their behavior, how it affects others, and what they can do to solve problems in appropriate ways.
A positive discipline approach does not imply lack of consequences. By holding children accountable for their choices, they experience natural consequences while being afforded the opportunity to change. We endeavor to look at the child rather than just the problem when working on solutions. What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for all children. Collaboration, cooperation, and support from parents are an essential and required part of our positive discipline process.
The classroom is the most effective place at school for discipline. Teachers can develop a unique relationship of respect and trust with their students and a deep understanding of their needs.
The classroom teacher handles minor misbehaviors by helping the student measure their behavior against defined expectations. This is done one-on-one, in class meetings, or by guiding peer-to-peer conflict resolution.
Notice of Concern — If a student does not respond to the teacher’s efforts to discipline techniques, we use a 3-step warning process for non-violent or non-offensive misbehavior:
1. Verbal reminder of expectation.
2. Verbal warning that a written Notice of Concern recorded will result from another misbehavior.
3. Notice of Concern written; student is sent to the office.
Office — When the above steps have been taken, or when a serious misbehavior is displayed, the concern is passed to the administration. The Dean of Students and Division Head will discuss the problem with the child, review the behavior and how it affects other students and the learning process, and explain the consequences of continued misbehavior.
Notifying Parents — The administrator reviewing the child’s behavior will notify parents of the meeting and will encourage parents to discuss the matter with their child, and with the teacher. Depending on the circumstances, the teacher and administration may request a conference with parents to develop strategies to help the child change his/her behavior.
Discipline — Notice Violent or offensive misbehavior results in a Discipline Notice and an immediate referral to an administrator.
Further Behavioral Consequences
In the event of a Discipline Notice or third Notice of Concern, a child may be sent home for a “cooling off” period before the parent conference takes place. A student will be suspended immediately for aggressive or seriously inappropriate infractions. The period of suspension will depend on the circumstances of the event.
Parents are required to meet with the teacher and the Dean of Students or Division Head to discuss the misbehavior and to devise strategies for helping the student.
The student may be placed under Behavioral Probation during which any further misbehavior is subject to termination of enrollment. Please note that the judgment of the administration, and depending on the nature of and circumstances affecting a behavioral infraction, the disciplinary process may be modified accordingly.
Termination of Enrollment
The natural consequence of not being able to behave appropriately within the school community, despite an earnest effort to encourage and facilitate change, is to find a new school. If a student continues inappropriate behavior, Almaden Country Day School will immediately terminate his/her enrollment.
The hope we hold during the entire process of moral development is that a child will recognize and choose the benefits of appropriate behavior rather than the consequences of misbehavior. We want children to understand the clear relationship between our expectations, their freedom to make choices and the subsequent consequences or benefits that follow these choices. A child’s successful journey through Almaden Country Day School depends on a healthy and cooperative partnership between the school and the child’s parents. In the event that the school is unable to establish this essential cooperative partnership, or in cases where parents are unwilling to support the school’s expectations, decisions, and actions, the child’s enrollment may be terminated at the sole discretion of the Head of School.