School as a Society: Emphasizing Accountability Through Building Relationships


School as a Society is a surprisingly simple concept that imagines our school’s organization as social natural supports to reinforce accountability through family and community relationships.

Each teacher and teaching assistant thinks of their class as a family unit and involves students in the development of the classroom to be more like a home. This includes responsibilities and opportunities to develop goals, incentives, and decorations that encourage a positive educational experience. Each class has a small sanctuary space in the classroom that serves as an area used to calm down or take a break when stress interferes with learning.This area within each classroom helps to manage everyday problems that surface.

In addition, each classroom has a sister classroom with whom they develop a relationship similar to an extended family or relatives. These two classrooms work together to provide support, solve problems and have fun together: like an extended family!

Our five program areas, elementary, middle, intermediate, and high school, along with our autism program were challenged to work together to develop hallways as individual neighborhoods and to create interesting names.

Expanding the neighborhood concept, two hallway neighborhoods compose a community in each school building. In addition to providing support, the community assumes responsibility for all the common areas in their building, such as decorating hallways and keeping the kitchen and library clean. Last year St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy began the process of implementing positive behavior interventions and supports through an incentive program that rewards positive behavior and academic achievement. Students and staff agreed that the school climate experienced a positive result and improvement.

This year the incentive program was further developed to emphasize accountability, and the School as a Society concept was developed from surveys, interviews and staff observations.

The students and staff have enthusiastically embraced and supported the School as a Society concept. It is amazing to watch the students and staff working together every day to create a safe, pleasant, and happy educational society.

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