Developing a Discipline Philosophy: Eagle Pride

Guest post by Cameron Soester

For years many schools have adopted common instructional language, which has produced some amazing results. At Milford Public Schools we have taken a similar approach to adopting common discipline language. Though other programs exist that guide leadership teams to develop a discipline philosophy, we took a path less traveled and made Eagle Pride, a one-of-a-kind customized program for our preK–12 students.

Why did we go the extra mile and develop our own plan? Because each community has its own set of rules—sometimes unwritten—that schools are expected to follow, we decided that our plan must incorporate these rules. In addition, students experienced transitional issues between our district’s buildings, and one of the main causes of these issues were different expectations. We all wanted our students to possess the same character traits, but the way we communicated those expectations were vastly different.

To begin the development process, we started with our existing Eagle Pride emblem. Banners throughout the district showcased the emblem, so the idea of Eagle Pride was well known among students and staff. Eagle Pride consists of eight character-building vocabulary words: Courage, Citizenship, Respect, Trustworthy, Effort, Responsibility, Honesty, and Kindness. As an administrative team, we defined these vocabulary words, and it is from these definitions that the work begins.

What does Eagle Pride mean for the school community? The only expectation for preK–12 staff is that they use the Eagle Pride language to address student discipline issues. Administrators also use the language when responding to office referrals, and students use the language when they develop an action plan to correct their behaviors. The Eagle Pride language is utilized districtwide during school, at extracurricular events, and through special programming at the elementary school. It’s on display in every classroom and is on every bulletin board in all of our buildings.

So, have our efforts been worth it? Our confidence in this approach is supported by strong data. Following the first three years of implementation, we have seen significant and continuing declines in the number of detentions. The results of this implementation, in our roughly 350-student junior/senior high school building, are noteworthy:

Milford Junior/Senior High School Discipline Data

  • 2012–13     369 Detentions
  • 2013–14     219 Detentions (first year of Eagle Pride)
  • 2014–15     200 Detentions
  • 2015–16     197 Detentions

Moving forward, our programming will involve more strategies to try and reduce the number of served detentions. We are continuously looking to grow our program and offer opportunities for our students.

By putting this program in place, we have not only developed common expectations for our students, but we have also given educators an effective tool to instill a sense of community and responsibility in their classrooms and throughout our campus.

Does your school have a common philosophy when it comes to discipline? What are some advantages or disadvantages to developing a local philosophy? How does this translate into larger districts?

Cameron Soester is the 2016 Nebraska Assistant Principal of the Year. He is currently the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School in Milford, NE.

2 Comments

  • Michael Thomas says:

    We have a set of common rules and expectations, but not a common discipline language. I like the common language because it gives staff a consistent “script” to use when talking to students.

    Other than using the language when discipline issues occur, does your school do anything else with students to help them understand the vocabulary and the language?

    Sounds like the words themselves are from an older character ed initiative from a decade ago, right? Perhaps more schools can take their character ed traits and turn them into their common discipline language.

    • Cameron Soester says:

      Our program does use a previous character ed initiative that our school had in place. We just formalized the process a bit. We utilize this vocabulary anytime we get the chance with students, and the community at large. We have monthly programs at the elementary introducing the words and utilizing our high school students to help out.

      The students know what Eagle Pride stands for, and how we expect them to behave. When I speak with elementary students at a football game, for example, and I talk to them about kindness they understand what I am talking about.

      I would say that using what you already have is a great way to go. Using or revamping other initiatives is a great way to speed up implementation.

      Thanks for the comment.

      ~Cameron

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