Dr. Marshall suggests that it is important to replace rules with procedures and expectations.
Recently I took time to ask about a list of Rights and Responsibilities I noticed hanging on the wall of one alternative high school site that I visit regularly in my position as literacy teacher. I learned that a number of years ago a former teacher had helped the students (aged 14-16) to write it. Ever since, the school has used it as a reference point for discussing success at school. As well, whenever a new student is transitioned into the school, teachers begin with this list of rights and responsibilities to introduce the expectations and procedures of the school to the young person and their parents.
CVAS Rights and Responsibilities
(Written by students of Cowichan Valley Alternate School, Providence Farm, Duncan, B.C.)
1. I have a right to learn in this school.
- It is my responsibility to listen to instructions, work quietly and to quietly ask for help if I have a problem.
2. I have a right to hear and be heard.
- It is my responsibility not to talk, shout, or make loud noises when others are speaking.
3. I have a right to be respected in this school.
- It is my responsibility not to tease or bug other people or to hurt their feelings by what I might say or do.
4. I have a right to be safe in this school.
- It is my responsibility not to speak unkindly to or about anyone else or to threaten, kick, punch or physically harm anyone else.
5. I have a right to privacy and my own personal space.
- It is my responsibility to respect the personal space and property of others and to accept their right to privacy.
The above list inspired the administration and staff at another alternate school to create a more formal school code of conduct based on the CVAS model:
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
1. I have the right to be heard.
… I have the responsibility to listen.
2. I have the right to learn.
… I have the responsibility to allow others to learn.
3. I have the right to feel safe.
… I have the responsibility to ensure the safety of others.
4. I have the right to an education.
… I have the responsibility to be on time and attend.
5. I have the right to positive emotional support
… I have the responsibility to create a positive environment for others.
6. I have the right to be treated with respect.
… I have the responsibility to treat others with respect.