Prior to Sequel coming on board, the culture on campus was focused on structure and forcing change in students. After joining Sequel, a new mentality was ushered in: one that set aside the imbalance of power and put students in leadership positions. Training for both staff and students was at the forefront of this philosophy. The most significant development at this time was the revamping and growth of the Knights Club. Under the new philosophy, students play a more active role in their program and take more ownership of their behaviors and other students on their dorm. Positive behaviors are the expectation and they are reinforced by the students. Of course, the philosophy is grounded in structure and is woven into the fabric of every day life.
Today, when a new student comes on campus, it is understood that everything is foreign to them. Many of those students resort to some of the negative behaviors that got them adjudicated to Woodward Academy in the first place. They are quickly mentored by other students and given alternatives to their behavior. This process has been refined over the years, but it has proven to be incredibly beneficial at enlisting students to be active in the behavioral landscape of campus.
One of the primary tools in maintaining positive student behaviors on campus has been see, offer, talk. It is not a secret on campus, in fact, both students and staff are trained to utilize this technique to eliminate negative behaviors. If you ever spend a substantial amount of time on campus, you’ll see its impact in the classroom, on the dorms, or on the practice field.
Norms vs. Rules
At Woodward Academy, there are no rules. The entire peer culture is based on norms, or the expected behaviors of the group. On campus, students are expected to be respectful to each other, maintain appropriate appearance, and accept interventions when asked to change their behavior. The violation of norms results in the loss of status for a student. Therefore, he would rather contribute to the enforcement of those norms. It provides students control over their culture and it is in our students where our success lies.
When a student first arrives on campus, they are considered “peers” by the rest of the student population. During the first couple days, they are paired up with a Knight from their dorm who explains the “how” and “why” we do things. They are held to the same standard and expectations as every other student, but when the teaching comes from another student, it is received. This helps maintain consistency in the positive norms that are set on campus and allows students to get “bought in” to life at Woodward Academy.