RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Advice

From: Joe Jackson <shoeless_at_jazztbone.com>
Date: Wed Sep 17 08:45:00 2003

Hi, Terri.

You mention that you are operating as a democratic school but you did
not mention if you are structuring the school and the staff duties
according to Sudbury - which is no problem, I just want to qualify my
answer as coming from my direction, which has been heavily influenced by
what I think should happen in the model.

You are completely correct that it has nothing to do with Staff.

If School Meeting decided everyone will clean up, it is then each
individual's responsibility. If a parent complains to students, it is
between the parent and the student. If a parent complains to a staff,
offer to schedule a conference. At our school you cannot have more than
a cursory/light conversation about a student without them present.

The meat of the conference should be to respond to the parent's
complaint by saying, "School Meeting determined that each student will
complete their chore by 3:20 (or whatever). I have noticed that X has
had trouble meeting the deadline, and has had to go to JC a couple of
times." Firmly put the transaction between school meeting and the
student. when the parent says, "well haven't YOU da da da?" you need to
steer it back (because the person is expecting you to respond as a
typical adult-run school) by harping on the fact that School Meeting
says yada yada and JC yada yada and I am concerned but I know s/he can
do it".

My one suggestion is that I would advise the chores or cleanup clerk to
set a deadline by which cleanup *must be done*, instead of stating when
it will *start*.

Then if students have not completed their responsibility by the
deadline, they can get written up and let JC deal with it. The writeups
can happen as strict or as loosey-goosey as you want (e.g. write
everyone up who has not completed the tasks they signed up for the
*instant* the deadline passes, versus walk aroud and remind certain
folks five minutes before the deadline, and let the "real" deadline
slide 'till about 3:30). But loosey-goosey is not the way I would go.

This way you are allowing the student/staff-run structures of the school
to deal with it rather than interceding and furthering any perception
that the whole democratic thing is a joke and that the staff are
actually responsible for the students.

Most parents will probably understand that it is entirely the student's
responsibility. Those that don't and are not willing to learn or
suspend disbelief do not belong there.

Good luck,

Joe Jackson
Parent
Fairhaven School
Received on Wed Sep 17 2003 - 08:44:22 EDT

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