The basis for discipline and authority at Korowal is the relationship developed between individual students and teachers. We spend time and effort establishing clear, consistent and committed relationships. Within that relationship, mutual trust and respect can develop.
We aim to deal proactively and positively with issues that might, in another context, become "discipline problems". Because the relationship with the teacher lasts over time, children feel that their needs are understood and come to learn what is expected of them: to show self control, respect and tolerance for others. Clear rhythms and routines are established early to give children a sense of order, security and belonging.
Teachers are referred to by their first names because we believe that mutual trust and respect should be attributes of the teacher-student relationship. Our teachers are encouraged to demonstrate a quiet, consistent authority.
The motto of the Korowal classroom is "we look after ourselves, and we look after each other." Emphasis is placed on settling new children and helping them to feel that they belong in the school. As in a family, they must learn to bond with others, adhere to basic rules and learn to negotiate their way through difficulties.
Children are expected to respect books and learning facilities, to take responsibility for their belongings and for other people's belongings. They are encouraged to respect other students' work and talents. They are also taught to take time and care with their work and to finish tasks properly. This encourages both self-discipline and a commitment to academic excellence and quality for its own sake. In younger years, Korowal uses supervised play to develop children's ability to share tasks, space and equipment. This helps to develop behavioural and ethical standards for peer interaction.
The high level of commitment amongst Korowal teachers means that they have the respect and authority to deal calmly but firmly with discipline problems that arise. Students usually respond to discussing inappropriate behaviour with the teacher and other children concerned. The child is helped to recognise the point at which s/he could have acted differently, leading to a more positive outcome. Where a child continues to have difficulties relating to behaviour, parents are contacted to work with the teacher and child. In most cases this is a highly successful approach. Children are reassured to know that parents and teachers are concerned for their welfare andprepared to work together. When necessary, our school counsellor may become involved with individual or group problems.
The school Welfare Policy was developed by students from years 5, 6, 7 and 8 working together with teachers. It focuses on the rights and responsibilities of students and teachers and the consequences of inappropriate behaviour.
Children, parents and teachers at Korowal can feel confident that discipline is taken seriously as part of personal development and education, not merely as a way of ensuring the smooth running of an organisation. Our teachers aim to establish a caring and consistent authority. This encourages children to develop self-discipline and responsibility that they see modelled in the teachers' behaviour. Our aim is for students to realise that freedom is grounded in responsibility.