When we live in community there will always be occasions when members of that community have disagreements that, if not appropriately addressed, can lead to misunderstanding and even conflict. Schools, even Christian schools, are not immune to such potential misunderstandings. This is why staff at NCS have been exploring throughout the first half of the year how we can develop a process that will allow us to address conversations around discipline and behavioral issues in a constructive manner.
The final outcome in this process has been the development of the ‘Respect’ poster but there were many earlier stages in this important journey. I would like to take a few moments to provide information about some of these crucial earlier steps.
One of the first steps was to revisit and update the NCS Behaviour and Discipline Policy and its accompanying primary and secondary procedural documents. These recently revised policies and procedures can be located on the school website. Two key related polices are the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Code of Respect. The purpose of these codes is to provide our students with clear and concise statements about how they are expected to conduct themselves as they relate to other members of our school community.
At this stage, it is vital to emphasise that the expectations outlined in these various policy documents also apply to all members of the NCS community. Whether we are students, staff or parents/carers, we are all called to treat one another in a respectful manner. As we all choose to embrace such an approach, we are playing a positive role in ensuring that NCS exhibits a healthy community culture.
Policies and procedures can become a little wordy and it was felt that there was a need to develop a simple summary of the key behavioural criteria lying at the heart of our NCS community. Staff also believed that a visual representation of these criteria would have the greatest impact on our students. There was a strong desire to develop one poster that could be used in age-appropriate ways for all students at NCS, whether they be commencing their school journey in kindergarten or about to depart our school at the completion of Year 12.
Staff met on numerous occasions to ‘brainstorm’ what this poster might look like. Sometimes these meetings involved just the K-12 coordinators or the senior executive team. On other occasions staff met in separate primary and secondary groups before coming back together as a whole staff team. Gradually these key behavioural criteria began to take on a visual form and eventually a draft poster emerged that had the support of all staff. At this stage we were particularly indebted to Mrs Alison Stewart who used her creative skills to produce a number of concept designs which eventually led to the creation of the final ‘Respect’ poster that is presented here.
If you look closely at this poster, you will notice a number of important features. Firstly, the heading indicates that each member of our NCS community must make a conscious decision to actively ‘choose’ to be respectful. In this way, we become constructive members of the community rather than reluctant participants. You will then observe that we have identified three key areas or categories within NCS. These are represented by the sub-headings ‘Christ’, ‘Teaching & Learning’ and ‘Community’. If we are to be truly positive contributors to the culture of our school, we should desire to show respect in each of these areas. Finally, our poster refers to just two of many passages in the Bible that indicate that God has placed His people in ‘community’ and that He expects us to treat one another with ‘proper respect’.
As stated in this week’s Principal’s BYTES article, there are A3 sized posters displayed throughout our school as a constant reminder that we are all called to behave respectfully. As well as this, all teaching staff have their own A4 copy of this poster that they can readily refer to whenever they are having conversations with students that relate to appropriate behaviour. In this way, it is anticipated that at NCS we will develop a common language around the concept of ‘respect’.
I trust that, as parents and carers, you have been encouraged to learn about these developments. I also trust that you will actively partner with staff as you speak with your children about this important concept of ‘respect’. It is our prayerful desire that, as members of the NCS community, we will all become increasingly aware of the importance of ‘choosing respect’ as we share life with one another.