Our school board sets the school rules; these are the things that are included in your planners that we go over at the beginning of each school year, and that the school-based adults should be reinforcing all year long. This includes the school cell-phone policy (you don't have one on school; if a teacher needs you to have one for a project, give it to that teacher before school starts and pick it up after school ends), the dress code (nothing distracting; no sleeveless shirts for men, no shoulder straps thinner than 3 inches for women, no shorts or skirts that come up higher than the fingers), the tardy policy, the graduation requirements, etc. The school board consists of people who have a stake in the performance of the school. In our case, it's mostly your parents, but it can also include local business officials, education professionals (usually ones who don't work for the school), and others. Their motivation in setting the rules is to keep you safe in school, and to provide you with the best education possible. They usually work with the schools' administration to make the rules.
We also have a set of school behavior expectations--Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible. (If you poke around in the archives, you'll find out more about how these came to be than you ever wanted to.) The Bobcat Code is another way of repeating the same basic ideals. Every community has rules about appropriate behavior, and these expectations are intended to tell us all what those are for our community. It's not just to tell students how to behave. It's also to tell teachers and staff how to behave, what to celebrate, who our good citizens are, things like that.
Each teacher has their own set of guidelines, too: rules, behavior expectations, and classroom procedures. The purpose of these guidelines is to codify how teachers and students interact. You can tell a lot about a teacher by their classroom guidelines.
All of these different levels of "rules" and "expectations" have one objective: to make school the best learning environment for you possible. In order for that to be true, the following things have to happen:
- The rules have to be directed towards improving your learning experience. (That's why we don't have a "Buy American" clause in the policies--it's got nothing to do with your learning.)
- You, the student, as well as we, the teachers, have to know what the rules are, what they're for, and what the consequences of following and not following them will be.
- The staff has to apply those rules consistently, re-teach them regularly, and be prepared to explain (in an appropriate time and place) what the educational value of a rule is.
In any case, with any rules change, be prepared to justify how the change will help your education. Once, I asked students what they thought about school policies. One student responded, "There should be a boxing ring where students who aren't getting along can beat each other up." We asked how it would help their education to get into fights. The response: "It wouldn't. But it would be fun." Whether it would be fun or not, it would be at the expense of the safety of the students, it would take away from learning, and it wouldn't work as well as more productive, non-violent means of problem-solving. So that's an example of a bad policy change.
SO....after all that, what do you think about our school policy? What works, what doesn't? What could work better?