Instead of adults laying down the law, Innovations has handed much of the power to the kids. Children at the school have confronted a classmate who was too loud during class. Middle schoolers brokered rules for when students can spin in rolling chairs. Third graders figured out how to share a single, coveted cardboard fort. And they agreed to stop teasing boys who were friends with girls.
. . . Punishments and rewards are frowned upon. Instead, the school seeks to help children right the wrongs they make, figure out why a student is misbehaving and how they can redirect their actions.
Some parents complained last year about “a lack of discipline” last year, prompting the school to add “class councils to mediate student complaints and disputes.” Third grade remains a problem because many students are new to the school.
Earlier this week in one classroom, third graders stood on desks, tossed paper idly and gabbed as the class tried to discuss an upcoming bake sale.
A girl in neon pink fishnets grew frustrated at the noise. “I think that everyone should be quiet because it’s my turn!” she exclaimed. “I’m waiting!”
“Positive discipline” is popular in theory, Alpert writes, but few schools go as far as Innovations Academy in letting kids make the rules.
Here’s a What Works Clearinghouse webinar on improving behavior in elementary classrooms.