Behavioral Expectations and Lifeskills

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Behavior Supports

Just as our students are learning the academic content of elementary school, they are also developing social and emotional skills. These include learning how to behave appropriately at school, how to control their emotions, set and achieve goals for themselves, develop and maintain positive relationships with others, feel and show empathy. We support children as they learn these behaviors, learning to respect the rights of others, and sharing responsibility for the school community. Our student progress report reflects the importance that we place on these skills.

Each student has the right to learn in a safe and supportive environment. Each student has the right to be treated with fairness and respect by students and staff. With these rights come responsibilities, and each student has responsibility to contribute to the positive, safe learning environment.

Students at Nixon are expected to learn to

"Be Responsible"

  • Come to school on time and ready to learn.
  • Follow school rules, make safe and respectful decisions, and take responsibility for their actions at all times and in all locations (classrooms, library, playground, halls, theater, lunch pods, restrooms).
  • Listen to and follow the directions of all adults at the school.

"Be Respectful"

  • Treat all students, staff and adults with courtesy and respect.
  • Listen to all adults and follow their directions.
  • Treat materials, the school building and the outdoor environment with respect and care.
  • Use inside voices when in the school building.

"Be Safe"

  • Follow school rules while on the school grounds: on the playground, at the bus and car pick-up zones, on the black top areas, in the classroom, and in all parts of the school building.
  • Walk when inside the school building.

To foster this positive school climate, the staff models the behaviors that we want students to learn, emphasizes positive attitudes, encourages good conduct, and helps children to value themselves and others.

Our district has defined social and emotional learning core competencies for each grade level in our progress reports. We teach these core competencies and communicate with parents regarding each student's progress in attaining them.

From the beginning of the school year, each teacher works with her/his class to establish classroom rules and procedures, to share school-wide rules and expectations, to develop ways to reinforce appropriate behavior, and to make clear the consequences for misconduct.

As much as possible we use a problem-solving approach to settle disputes among students. We teach students conflict resolution skills so they can work with others to settle conflicts and arrive at mutually agreeable solutions in the classroom and on the playground.

Consequences for misbehavior in the classroom depend upon the seriousness of the offense, the conditions under which it occurred, and the degree of recurring instances. Teachers will involve parents and the principal when further support for the child is needed or the seriousness of the problem warrants parent/principal involvement.

Lifeskills are the behavior traits we are encouraging students to develop at Nixon School. They are based on respect for self and others. Lifeskills are taught by defining, modeling and acknowledging others' use of them on a daily basis. All students are expected to develop and practice good citizenship through the use of the Lifeskills described below.


ACTIVE LISTENING: To listen with the intention of understanding

CARING: To feel concern for others

COMMON SENSE: To use good judgment

COOPERATION: To work together toward a common goal (purpose)

COURAGE: To act according to one's beliefs despite fear

CURIOSITY: A desire to investigate and seek understanding of the world

EFFORT: To try your hardest

FLEXIBILITY: To be willing to alter plans when necessary

FRIENDSHIP: To make and keep a friend through mutual trust and caring

INITIATIVE: To do something because it needs to be done

INTEGRITY: To act according to a sense of what's right and wrong

NO PUT DOWNS: To never use words or actions to dishonor others

ORGANIZATION: To plan, arrange and implement in an orderly way

PATIENCE: To wait calmly for someone or something

PERSEVERANCE: To continue in spite of difficulties

PERSONAL BEST: To do one's best given the circumstances

PRIDE: Satisfaction from doing your personal best

PROBLEM SOLVING: To seek solutions in difficult situations

RESOURCEFULNESS: To respond to challenges and opportunities in innovative and creative ways

RESPONSIBILITY: To be accountable for your actions

SENSE OF HUMOR: To laugh and be playful without hurting others

TRUSTWORTHINESS: To act in a manner to make one worthy of trust

TRUTHFULNESS: To be honest about things and feelings with oneself and others

Our discipline practices are consistent with Palo Alto Unified School District policy in that our goals are: "To maintain order and decorum, educate our youth to observe accepted rules of conduct, and to develop self-discipline while simultaneously protecting the rights of others."

Ideally, positive reinforcement is so effective that little or no other action is necessary. At Nixon we have a proactive rather than reactive approach to discipline. Our Lifeskills program and conflict resolution training are intended to model, teach and encourage the behaviors that we want to see in our students. Within classrooms, rules reflect the need to have children learn without disruption and to promote mutual support.

There are a few situations in which the usual regimen is inappropriate. When this occurs, principal, teacher and parent work together to provide support for a child in order to ensure behavior appropriate for learning. In these instances process and consequences are consistent with the PAUSD discipline plan.

In certain circumstances, a child may be suspended (in or out of school) from school, depending on the seriousness of the infraction. A suspension is defined as the removal of a student from ongoing instruction for disciplinary purposes. The principal will confer with parents or guardians concerning a student's suspension. Expulsion, if indicated, is determined exclusively by the Palo Alto Unified School District and not by the Nixon principal. For a more complete description of the grounds for suspension, click here:

Playground Behavior and Discipline

Our behavior expectations do not change on the playground, but the situation is less structured. In many ways it is the real test of what students have learned about how to behave at school. Teachers and yard supervisors encourage personal responsibility and the use of conflict resolution skills by the children.

On the playground, students are expected to share the equipment that is available. In order to create the circumstances in which students need to negotiate and compromise in their play, we don't want students to bring their own play equipment to school. We have a policy of including everyone in games; there are no closed games in which students get to tell some children that they may not play. Beginning in kindergarten, students are taught techniques for entering a game, observing how it is being played and asking about the rules.

When there is a problem, our first strategy is to listen and understand, encourage students to talk to each other and help students to take responsibility for their own behavior. In many cases the situation can be resolved through discussion. When consequences for inappropriate behavior are needed, these can include having the student sit down for a period of time, clean up the lunch area or lose their opportunity to play (when a student hits another child). When needed, yard duty supervisors use "warning slips" to communicate behavior issues to the child's teacher.

Depending on the particular problem and the student's general behavior pattern at school, the teacher will work with the student on strategies to avoid repetition of the problem. The teacher may choose to involve the parent to help. Repeated problems on the playground will certainly result in both parent and principal involvement.

Teachers and other staff members earnestly seek to work with parents to encourage good behavior and to solve behavior problems. We know that when teachers and parents work together and children hear a consistent message at home and at school, appropriate behavior is likely to result.

In cases involving serious injury or mistreatment of a student, our school and district bullying procedures will be implemented to resolve the situation. To read our school district policy on bullying and bullying prevention, please click on this link:

Sexual Harassment Policy

It is the policy of the Palo Alto Unified School District to provide a school environment free from all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment, and to maintain an environment in which all students and adults model this behavior and are treated with dignity and respect. Therefore, no student shall be subjected to sexual overtures or conduct, either verbal, visual, or physical, which is intimidating, hostile, offensive, or unwelcome. Such conduct by adults or students is deemed unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated by the school district. Please make your child's teacher and the school principal aware of any circumstances that you feel might be in the category of sexual harassment. To read our district's sexual harassment policy, click on this link: