The Virtues Project™ is used at SJI International Elementary School both as a vehicle to make the school values accessible for the children and as the basis of our Behaviour Policy. The Virtues Project™ is based on the beliefs and virtues valued by diverse cultures and world religions. Its mission is to provide empowering strategies that inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life. The Virtues Project™ enables us to address not only our core values, SMILES but also to meet the personal development goals at the heart of the International Primary Curriculum. (Please find more information on The Virtues Project™ here. www.virtuesproject.com
Implementing The Virtues Project™
Teachers seize every opportunity to compliment the children for practising their virtues. Compliments given at SJII ES are very specific in nature since effective praise brings out the best in everyone and reverses the statistics that show that children, on average, receive 460 negative or critical comments and 75 positive or supportive comments each day. The aim at SJIIES is to reverse this ratio and we challenge parents to adopt the same practice.
Children's Positive Behaviours
Teachers acknowledge children's positive behaviours through compliments and through Wow cards which are given to children during the school day when teachers see them practising their virtues. The Wow cards are collected each week with a grand draw during assembly on Friday when one card is drawn and that child's class receives a special positive consequence negotiated with their teacher. Teachers also have class-based initiatives for reinforcing the understanding, the practice, and the acknowledgement of virtues, such as a virtues ceremony at the end of the week.
Children's Negative Behaviours
When children show negative behaviours, teachers use the language of the virtues to call them to the missing virtue. The aim is to develop that virtue within the child by highlighting the desired behaviour. For example, if a child lacks focus during class a teacher may say, "Be self-disciplined and finish your work before lunchtime". Instead of using coercion and force, teachers express clear and firm expectations based on virtues. There are also negative consequences when codes of behaviour are not met.
The main codes of behaviour at SJI International Elementary School are:
- Self-discipline: to be self-disciplined at the end of morning assembly, break and lunch
- Courtesy: to be courteous moving around the school
- Responsibility: to be responsible in the playground
- Respect: to be respectful of yourself, others and the environment at all times
Each code includes clear expectations of behaviours that are regularly discussed with the children through morning class meetings and assembly times. For example, "Be responsible" includes expectations from being responsible for keeping everyone happy and safe on the playground to the expectation that hats be worn or the "no hat, no play" rule is enforced. The children fully understand the consequences, both positive and negative, that relate to the codes of behaviour and through the setting of clear boundaries, The Virtues Project™ offers a positive approach to discipline, emphasising educative and restorative justice to create a respectful climate of trust in the classroom and in the school environment as a whole.