As the dean of students at Dilworth STEM Academy, I believe that I have a duty to do much more than just student discipline. My job is to help the principal, teachers, students and staff have a better experience throughout the school day.
I spend the majority of my day talking and listening to students. I believe that with this particular age group of students the best thing that I can do is listen.
It is apparent to me that students in middle school really love to talk. There are many issues that affect the lives of our students, whether those issues are in school, with friends or at home. It is important that students have an outlet and feel comfortable talking to an adult about those issues.
When a student is sent to my office for behavioral issues, I believe that it is my job not to just discipline the student, give them a consequence and send them back to class, but rather to get to the root of the problem to try and impact their behavior at the source.
Every student that I come in contact with is different. Since every situation is unique, a solution to the problem may work for one student and not for the other. I have to be very versatile in how I approach each student.
It is not feasible to deal with students by having a checklist approach. I have to address each student differently based on my knowledge of that student.
I believe it is incredibly important for me to get to know these students in any way that I can. I have many opportunities throughout the day outside my office to interact with students. In the mornings when the students come to school, I am often one of the first adults that they see and I use that time to get to know the students on a level outside of discipline. I also get to spend time with the students at lunch and after-school events. My awareness and relationships that I build with these students is more important than just handing out consequences for unacceptable behavior.
I talk to the students about our critical values that are displayed in every classroom in our school and why those are important values that they need to have not only in school but in their daily lives. The critical values that we at Dilworth are most passionate about are our Code of Arms; Being Respectful, Being Accountable, Being a Solution Finder and Being a Manager of Task and Time. If I can get the students that I interact with to understand these values, then their behaviors can mirror what these values teach them.I hope to be a positive role model for our students and in order to do this I need to be visible and approachable ensuring availability at all times. I strive on having an open door policy for staff, students and families so please stop in and say “Hi.”