The Communications Program unites and sustains all aspects of the school community. Throughout their time at Woodhall, students develop skills of self-reflection, self-expression, and accountability.
The purpose of the Communications Program is to give students the opportunity to express themselves in an open, compassionate, and honest manner and to learn how to confront themselves and others with respect, integrity, and accountability. Ultimately, students learn how to share their feelings and relate to others. Woodhall believes that a student’s ability to communicate should extend beyond the content of what he is learning to include what he is experiencing as he learns. All students and teachers participate in the Communications Program, which includes twice weekly Communications Group, a weekly School Forum, and the Committee for Accountability.
The school believes that all adolescents benefit from learning how to express their complex, often contradictory feelings as they develop greater intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness. Communications Groups meet twice weekly, under the guidance of a faculty group facilitator. Students and teachers work together to learn to become self-reflective and to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences. They learn how to share and to communicate personal responses to life’s situations. Trust and confidentiality are essential elements for each group. There is a designated theme for each term to provide structure and continuity within the group and throughout the year. Group compositions change each term. Each student will receive a grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory each term, based on his participation within the group.
School Forum is a weekly gathering of students and faculty. Anyone may share an issue, concern, or announcement as long as it is done so with compassion, integrity, and respect. Occasionally, the meeting is dedicated to class or club presentations. School Forum provides an opportunity for students and faculty to be present to one another and to engage in mindful listening and productive verbal and non-verbal communication.
The weekly Committee for Accountability provides a forum where students and teachers can hold community members accountable. Together, students and teachers help individual community members make positive changes in their lives at school and beyond. This challenging and intimate process provides an opportunity for students and teachers to learn the process of accountability in resolving issues and differences in a safe and caring community of peers and adults.
The Committee for Accountability serves as a vehicle for holding the members of The School community accountable. The Head of School or designated administrator or faculty member chairs the Committee, which is composed of five members, including two students and two faculty members appointed by the Head of School.
The Committee provides an opportunity to confront someone in order to bring about accountability that leads to a change in behavior and attitude. Anyone in the community who has felt offended or violated and then not heard when he or she confronted another and asked for accountability can ask for help from the Committee. Anyone in the community can ask for help from the Committee only after he/she has addressed or confronted the other person, and he/she feels that the other person has not been able to accept accountability or change.
At the Committee meeting, people have the opportunity to express what they are thinking and feeling, what was happening with them at the time of the initial confrontation that was not resolved satisfactorily, or why they are having difficulty following the school guidelines and have not been able to improve or stop a particular behavior. After each confrontation, the Committee members will conference with one another and take a position they consider to be appropriate. This may involve some form of consequence that may range from an apology to a required behavior change or to a loss of privilege. All present must treat respectfully and fairly what transpires in the confrontation.