Wry Exchange


Disciplinary Contracts
03-14-08, 12:25 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students | Tags: , , ,

  Several years ago, Husband and I decided to formalize our program’s disciplinary procedures.   We needed a standardized approach so that all students were treated equally.  Up until  then, most problems were handled as they came up by different people.   We wanted to bring the program’s inbound student chairman into discussions, not just the student’s counselor.

When a student has serious, chronic problems that are within his control, we expect the problem to go away.  By problem I mean staying out all night, improper pet care, school disruptions, extreme belligerence, or property destruction.  The problem isn’t quite enough to send the student home, but we need him to behave better.  Other problems may be a one time thing like getting caught drinking at a party, or being suspended from school, and we decide to give the student one more chance.   Either way, it’s always more than just being a general pain in the ass.

We have a meeting with the student, a host parent, the student’s counselor, the person who specializes in the student’s country, and the inbound student chairman.   The meeting is somewhere neutral, and out of public view.   Everyone has a chance to speak.  Our goal is to ensure the student stays to complete her year. 

We put the student on ‘probation.’  Probation means the student has one chance to correct her behavior.   We give the student a contract.  The contract clearly states the problem, why it’s a problem, and what has to be done to correct the problem.  Then it states what the penalties are for continuing the bad behavior.   The adults and student all sign the contract, and a copy is emailed to the student’s counselor in her home country.    Example:   Clara has been smoking in school.  Smoking on school grounds is not permitted.  Clara is 17, and it’s illegal for minors to purchase cigarettes.  The school has caught Clara smoking 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  Clara has been asking to use the restroom during class periods, and returns smelling like smoke at least a few days per week even though she denies smoking.     Clara will cease bringing cigarettes to school or anywhere out of the house.  IF her hostparents permit her to smoke outside of their home, she may.  If they do not permit her to smoke at home, she may not smoke at all.   If Clara is caught smoking at school, or carrying tobacco onto school grounds, she will be suspended.  If she is suspended, she will have broken her contract.  Failure to comply will result in Clara being terminated.  

It’s something about having it in writing that shows the student we’re serious.  It also keeps emotion out of the discussion as much as possible.  Anyway, it works for us.

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