“… the time you spend teaching your discipline plan and your rules of conduct is an investment that pays huge dividends in increased learning, on-task student behaviour and increased job satisfaction …”
– Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton, The Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems
This year at Vancouver Talmud Torah marks the beginning of a very important time of change and development. With the building of a new and revitalized campus, Talmud Torah will undergo many physical changes in the coming months. Similarly, our school will naturally undergo changes in spirit. With this in mind, Talmud Torah has committed to introducing a Social Responsibility program, designed to guide student behaviour, foster a greater sense of accountability within the school and create a spirit of unity that can be felt throughout the school. A school‐wide investment in such a model promotes a safe, orderly and predictable environment for learning and teaching, establishing therein a positive school culture that students, parents and staff perceive as secure, caring and meaningful. The very name of this Social Responsibility program, spurned from a collective desire for togetherness, a common understanding and a yearning to live as one is YACHAD, meaning unity. There are many facets to the Yachad Program, which will be introduced to the students and parents at VTT in a number of ways throughout the course of this school year:
1. Vancouver Talmud Torah has adopted a common code of conduct (displayed in the form of a matrix) outlining clear expectations for students in all settings. This matrix has been designed with Jewish values, and a desire for consistency across the grades, in mind. The faculty and administration at VTT will work to ensure that students feel compelled to adhere to the rules laid out in the matrix featured below:
2. Students will be motivated to live by the rules set out in the matrix and will feel compelled to do so because commendable behaviour will be honoured and rewarded each month at a school-wide assembly. Once a month on a Monday, the school will come together as a whole to celebrate and participate in a Yachad assembly where “Menschens of the Month” will be recognized for their good deeds. For each month from September to June, a theme has been assigned, either intended to coincide with a Jewish holiday and the values and traditions therein, or to coincide with important world events, core values or mitzvot (commandments) to live by. During each of these months, the student body at VTT will be encouraged, by their teachers and peers, to live by and enact mitzvot associated with that month’s theme. However, each month a different grade will be responsible for showcasing how their class has worked to embody that month’s theme. This will take place at the Yachad assembly, affording each grade an opportunity to share their learning and achievement. (The Yachad assembly dates are already entered into our online calendar.)
3. Throughout each month, teachers will watch for students in the school who are making a concerted effort to live by the principles of that month’s theme and will in turn recommend worthy candidates in the form of a ballot nomination. The Yachad assembly will serve to recognize these candidates who have worked hard to live by the goals of that month’s theme. Their names and the deed for which they were nominated will be announced for all to hear. Each nominee will also receive a silicone bracelet embossed with that month’s theme. Students will endeavour to collect each month’s bracelet (they will vary in colour), thereby showing their commitment to following the path of a mensch, deserving of a mention that month!
Throughout the school, in hallways and classrooms, the behaviour matrix will be posted for all to see and for all to live by. Parents are encouraged to remind their children to practice the values that go along with a particular month’s theme and to work hard to come together (b’yachad) to effect change through positive behaviour and mitzvot. A banner showcasing each month’s theme will be displayed for all to see at VTT.
As we begin this new school year, with endless possibilities on the horizon and limitless potential in each student revealed, a sense of togetherness will drive us forward to achieve the goals laid out in the Yachad Program.