School: Code of Conduct Reigns Supreme
by Teenaz Javat
“Mum I don’t want to wear these clothes to school. My friends say I look like a dork.” Or “Mum I need to buy gym clothes with the school logo on them. Everybody has them.”
These were the complaints new immigrants Jeroo and Xerxes Madan faced on a daily basis when they immigrated to Canada in February of 2007.
The Madans decided to settle in the Square One neighborhood of downtown Mississauga, a place they found that was transit friendly and within walking distance from most major amenities
Their children Anaisha (12) and Kevan (9) started school within a week of arrival.
Most schools in Mumbai have uniforms for children, so clothes were never an issue in the Madan household. From Monday through Friday the school uniform ruled. However, things began to change here. The morning tussle for clothes began with Anaisha who insisted that her clothes were not Canadian enough. Her younger brother followed suit. To ease off on the morning growls Madan decided to visit the local school and see for herself what comprised “Canadian clothing.”
She was handed a pamphlet called Safe and Caring Schools and directed to read the school agenda. The school agenda is like a Bible for all, whether you are a new immigrant to the country or a descendent of the pioneers.
It contains almost everything you need to know about the school in particular and the school board policy in general: classroom etiquette, acceptable clothing and behaviour rules both inside and outside the class, among others.
Parents who are not fluent in English are strongly encouraged to have the School Agenda translated into their language to better understand school policy. The best place to start is your child’s school for translation solutions.
Behavior in classrooms across the province is outlined in the Code of Conduct and students are expected to adhere to it. The code also outlines what happens when someone does not conform. It is very important that students and parents learn about and understand the rules so they know what is expected of them and of others in every school.
Most of the schools endorse a solution-based technique where students from JK to grade 12 are encouraged to be a part of the solution.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) uses Progressive Discipline to deal with misbehavior like smoking, bullying, fighting or violence. Breaches in code of conduct are handled individually according to the specifics of each situation. Disciplinary measures range from written apology; counseling by school staff; parents, or the police; detention; loss of privileges; and in extreme cases suspension from school for several days.
In the event of suspension, the school boards do provide programs that can help a student continue with their educational goals.
Going through the Student Agenda, Madan and her family were on sure ground. They had an idea on how their kids must dress for school, gym, outdoor recess, picnics and school trips. They also learned how to behave and where to go for help.
“I am so glad that instead of asking my neighbors I went to school and got clear answers about all that I needed to know. The secretary directed me to all the right websites and now I am better prepared to face the challenge,” said Madan.
A better-prepared parent almost always leads to better-prepared children. Schools and parents must work together to help our children learn responsibility because that is what will shape tomorrow’s society.
Get The Information You Need
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has a very comprehensive website
(www.tdsb.on.ca) where class room etiquette, codes of conduct, proper school attire and manners in class and on the playground are explained. Once on the website, select “Parents” at the top of the home page and then click on “Safe and Caring Schools” for further information. You may also contact the System Superintendent Safe School, Ms. Donna Quan at 416-393-8933 if you need any further clarifications.
The Peel District School Board (www.peelschools.org) has a similar code of conduct. Individual schools often work around the board specified code and adapt it to their settings. For more information on provincial policy that governs all school boards in Ontario visit www.edu.gov.on.ca and type “Code of Conduct” in the search window.
Classroom etiquette is not much different in colleges and universities across Canada, although the best way to learn about each institutes specific code is to go through their websites. The student handbook must be given a thorough read prior to embarking on any post-secondary education.
In general, professors and teachers can request that a student leave the class in the event of a verbal or physical encounter. In many cases college/university security is called in.
Since most students are over 18 years of age they are not cut much slack. The rules of law that govern the provinces prevail. They are treated as adults and encounters with law enforcement officials might result in a criminal record.