By Teresa LaSala
Unity Charter School is a unique learning environment in which positive discipline is a core component in our daily curriculum and embedded in all aspects of the community beginning with administration then filtering through to staff, students and families.
Unity’s charter was written based on the Adlerian principles of discipline. Positive Discipline, an international Adlerian research based program, teaches the importance of belonging and significance, respect for all people, encouragement, strategies for reducing misbehavior, and the development of problem solving and communication skills for students and staff. This is done experientially and in a manner that is respectful to both adults and children.
Positive Discipline workshops and materials provide teachers with specific lessons, for implementation into daily curriculum, to use with students, to teach social and emotional life skills and healthy self-discipline. Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. Teachers report they enjoy teaching more because Positive Discipline promotes respect, better discipline throughout their schools and classrooms and invites greater cooperation from all involved, thereby enhancing school climate, providing more teaching time and improved academic outcomes.
We strive to address each student as an individual and consider the importance of educating the “whole child”. We have multi-age classes to best meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students. In addition, multi-age activities are integrated into our weekly schedule to encourage collaboration amongst students of all ages. Using Positive Discipline daily, in both school-wide and class meetings, we foster a peaceful culture based on embracing diversity. We approach all aspects of discipline with a focus on solutions. We want to empower the students to resolve conflicts through mutual respect, the wheel of choice, and effective communication in seeking a win-win situation for all. Our student-run Democratic Governance encourages students to have a voice and take on leadership roles. Our goal is to educate capable, confident, life-long learners and productive citizens of our world.
The following are additional examples of Unity’s implementation of Positive Discipline:
- Student generated Code of Conduct
- Class created guidelines
- Older students facilitating Positive Discipline experiential activities with younger students
- Student led parent/student/teacher conferences
- Peer mediation program
- Student led Interest Groups
- Active Positive Discipline team available during school hours
In an effort to unify the community in understanding and applying the philosophies of Positive Discipline, free workshops are offered to parents throughout the year and additional ongoing training and education classes are available for registration. A five session, Positive Discipline “Follow Up” class is being offered through Unity beginning in January. Registration details and costs are available in the weekly Unity Digest or may be provided by contacting the main office.
About the Author:
Teresa LaSala, a Certified Positive Discipline Author, Facilitator and Lead Trainer, provides training, consultation and supportive services in public, private, charter and parochial schools throughout the United States and internationally. She served for 8 years as a member of the Positive Discipline Association’s Board of Directors and regularly facilitates Positive Discipline in the Classroom and Parenting with Positive Discipline workshops and certification trainings.
Teresa is a Whole Child Faculty Member – Regional Specialist for ASCD (an educational leadership organization). She serves as a School Culture and Climate Field Consultant with The United Way of Northern New Jersey’s/Collage of St. Elizabeth’s – Youth Empowerment Alliance Program; and has received an award from the NJ State Department of Education, as part of a team, for implementing a “Role Model Character Education Program” (based on the Positive Discipline Whole School Model). She is a licensed nurse with 23 years of experience in the areas of Family and Pediatric Care, Child Development, and General Medicine. She is also the author of two positive discipline books.
The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.