On Thursday, our VOX (student voice or student council) put together an amazing Remembrance Day service for our 1500 students, our staff, our parents and our veterans. The combination of music, video and live performances performed by our students was heart-felt as I sat next to two veterans, who participated this year. The students sat respectfully in the bleachers and rented chairs in our biggest gym. This got me wondering: where do these students learn this respect, social awareness and appropriate behaviour?
We model it, of course. We remind them daily with our code of conduct. We use C.A.R.E.S. as an acronym that we display in the classrooms. Their parents are doing their part. The difference between the behavioural issues I see on a daily basis and their behaviour during the service was stark, though. How do these students know when appropriate behaviour is required and when it is requested?
The service itself lends to the atmosphere of respect. Their daily routines in school, however, must not. The student who listened quietly, did not use their devices, took off their hats and patiently waited through the moments of silence, is also the student that didn’t think twice before taking someone’s property, brought drugs into the school, and disrespected their teachers. What are we doing that allows this behaviour? The respect for the school is there, or they wouldn’t sit through the school service as their peers put on one of the best musical performances I have seen (even during an audio error that took up five minutes to correct).
We must remind students of appropriate behaviour, but we must also commend them when they get it right. I have always felt that school is the one place where a young person can mess up. We, as adults, are there to shine a light on their actions, both good and bad. Pick them up when they fall and gently (or not gently) guide them to become better citizens of this world.
Next week, I will be with twenty amazing students volunteering their time to train as the Red Cross’ Beyond the Hurt leaders for middle schools. We have groups raising money for hurricane Sandy, helping the homeless, bringing up AIDS awareness, donating blankets, food, money and time to help those less fortunate.
Again, I ask, where did they learn this? How can we support their learning? If we only produce (hate that term) a academically strong people, we are only doing half our job.
Lest We Forget.