Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Codes of Conduct



The Role of Emotion Co-Regulation in Discipline

Summary:  This article focuses on the importance of using SEL skills when dealing with behavioral problems – particularly for those students suffering from ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences).  The author underscores the importance that “Discipline ideally is not something we do to students—it should be a quality we want to develop within them.”

Source:  Lori Desautels, Edutopia, October 15, 2019



DC Elementary School Transforms Culture with Alternative Discipline

Summary:  When Langley Elementary, a Title I school in Washington, D.C., implemented the Conscious Discipline approach, its school culture improved significantly and suspension rates dropped, EdSurge reports, noting that the “top-to-bottom” reforms took around three years to yield positive results.

Source:  Shawna De La Rosa, Education DIVE, October 16, 2019



Restorative Justice Programs Struggling Due to Lack of Funds

Summary: Some school districts are cutting restorative justice programs because of budget constraints.  The Oakland (CA) Unified School District is a prime example.  The primary need for funding is teacher training since research has shown the program to be more effective when teachers are properly trained to lead the sessions.

Source:  Shawna de la Rosa, Education DIVE, July 2, 2019



Student Suspensions Plummeted in this New Jersey School District. Here’s How They Did it.

Summary:  This article presents the story of how the Morris School District (Morristown, NJ) used a system of restorative justice to dramatically change their approach to discipline issues.  

Source:  Hannan Aderly, North Jersey Record, June 25, 2019



Study Correlates Positive School Climate, Fewer Suspensions

Summary:This article reports on a research study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Virginia which found that student suspensions could drop by 10% when schools work to develop a more positive school climate. Enforcing clear rules and building positive teacher-student relationships were two areas that helped to achieve these results in schools.

Source: Linda Jacobson, Education DIVE, December 18, 2018

Categories: School Culture and Climate, Student Behavior, Codes of Conduct, Relationships, Restorative Practices



Resource Officers Equipped with SEL Skills Can Help Reduce Bullying, Suspensions

Summary: Dr. Michael Gaskell, principal mentor through the NJEA Leaders to Leaders program, shares with eSchool News his insights regarding how to best use school resource officers (SROs) or school security officers (SSOs) as part of a disciplinary method to reduce bullying and divert offenders from suspension and direct involvement with law enforcement agencies.

Source:Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, December 12. 2018

Categories: Student Behavior, Codes of Conduct, SEL Basics, School Culture and Climate



A Proactive Approach to Discipline

Summary: This article explores alternative approaches to discipline. These include Restorative Practices as well as well as supportive and responsive discipline. These are positive approaches to discipline where expected behavior is modeled and students have a say in the norms and rules that govern classroom behavior.

Source: Marieke van Woerkom, Edutopia, October 26, 2018

Categories: Restorative Practices, Student Behavior, Codes of Conduct, Classroom Strategies, SEL Basics



How Restorative Justice Helps Students Learn

Summary:This article is a good introduction to Restorative Justice (RJ), an approach that is used as a dicipline/behavioral measure that helps students return to a calm state and re-engage in the learning process.

Source:Jacquelyn Richards, Edutopia, September 4, 2018

Categories: Restorative Practices, SEL Basics, Codes of Conduct, Student Behavior, School Culture and Climate



How Are School Districts Legally Responsible for Bullying?

Summary: This article summarizes schools’ legal responsibility to address bullying. Though the laws vary from state to state, certain key components remain constant, including the fact that these incidents must be investigated and properly reported.

Source:Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 2, 2018

Categories: Anti-Bullying, Educational Equity, Codes of Conduct, Student Behavior



The “Kindness” Book


by Ed DeRoche, Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego

Last month, I received a copy of Thomas Lickona’s (TL) new book, How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain (Penguin, 2018).

I’ve read it—twice. The book advises parents, teachers, and caregivers on everything they need to know about “kindness,” and about ten essential virtues that function as a “supporting cast” for kindness – wisdom, justice, fortitude, self-control, love, positive attitude, hard work, integrity, gratitude, and humility.

TL notes that his long career has focused on character education and teacher training. A long-time proponent of character education, one of his earliest books, Character Matters–Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility (Bantam, 1991), was a major resource when Professor Mary Williams and I started writing and speaking about the topic, and when creating the Center here at USD.

I want to focus this blog on what I see as the framework that TL uses to develop the “important principles and practices” that can guide parents, teachers, and caregivers in helping children and youth on the road to good character; that is, character, character education, and character coaches.

He suggests that there are two types of character—moral character and performance character. Moral character “inspires us to be good and performance character enable us to do good well.” He reminds us that the good side of one’s character consists of our virtues, our good habits, and that the bad side of character involves our bad habits. He notes that “in a very real sense, we become our habits. Our responsibility as parents and teachers is to help kids develop good habits…Character, good or bad, is composed of learned habits and behaviors.”

The way I see it is that:

  1. The word CHARACTER has two Cs in it; one stands for CHOICES and the other for CONSEQUENCES.
  2. Living a life of good character doesn’t happen by CHANCE, nor does it happen by CIRCUMSTANCES.
  3. It happens by CHOICE and is influenced, most times by CIRCUMSTANCES and CULTURE.

Given today’s situations, we should underline TL’s observation that: “Human behavior has always been influenced by the interaction of character and culture. Think of character as what’s on the inside—the capacities and dispositions that influence how we act and react.

Culture is what’s on the outside—all of the factors in our environment…and then in any given situation, the outside influences bring out either the best or the worst of our character.”

“We know,” he says, “that good character involves knowing what’s right, and doing what’s right—and that doing is the hardest part. We become good by doing good.”

In regards to character education, TL writes schools that have effective character education initiatives ensure that students have voice (an opportunity to shape the culture of their school) and are engage in “high quality” cooperative learning. Character education “trains the heart as well as the mind.” It helps children “not just to know that something is wrong, but to feel that it is wrong.”

From the perspective of character education, TJ writes, every moment of the school day is a “character moment.” “To a large degree, our children create their character by the choices they make every day.”

Not in the book, but something that educators and the parents should know: Researchers at UC-Berkeley surveyed 400 students ages 12-14 in which they found that students “who were more likely to be grateful to others [I am adding “kindness” here] showed higher academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement, and had lower interest in risky behaviors.” Positive parent relationships was also associated with gratitude (and probably with many habits of the heart including “kindness”).

TL urges parents, teachers, and caregivers to become what he calls character coaches.

  1. Being a character coach means “teaching children character skills like self-control and kindness in very deliberate ways and then helping kids practice them again and …”
  2. Becoming a character coach “means giving your child/children opportunities for moral action in family life (and I would say in schools as well) and…the toughest part…is doing so in the heat of the moment….”
  3. Character coaches know that the “family is a child’s first school of virtue and that the qualities that make up good character…grow in a family ”
  4. “Character coaches do all they can to help children and to stay on the road to good ”

Research, TL tells us, finds that children’s character development is best supported by “a stable and loving family environment where they teach respect for legitimate authority, where children are held accountable for their actions and behaviors [and] where children have meaningful responsibilities in family life.”

The book is filled with advice, examples, stories, research, and resources for home (parents/caregivers) and school (teachers/administrators).

Here are a few – by the numbers:

3 Ways that family meetings foster character development

6 Principles that can guide our efforts to raise kind children

15 Character-based tools and strategies for your discipline toolbox

10 Tips for holding good family meetings (and I might add for good classroom meetings)

7 Guidelines for children’s TV watching

4 Steps to making good decisions

10 Ways to teach and practice gratitude

20 Questions using the “True-Love Character Test”


“Every child deserves a home and school where children and youth are learning to be smart and good.”

 My advice as a parent and teacher:

Buy the book! Read it! Use it! Share it!


Ed DeRoche, Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego