Above the Line – behaviors & attitudes that supports learning and growth


Port Vila International School Values values and encourages behaviours that support us all to be our best – staff and students.

Staying ‘”above the line” or being warned about “being below the line” is something you have probably heard before. This graphic puts some useful detail to help you locate yourself, or others, above or below the line. It is a useful tool for working through a problem, conflict or blockage with students or with adults.

It is a model that has been adapted and evolved to suit the PVIS way.

I highly recommended a copy on your fridge for ready reference . . .

You will see this useful infographic displayed proudly in all of our classrooms and other spaces around our campus.

We hope you find it useful too and hope that it can find a place in your home or workplace. A quality PDF version is available for download below.

Sue Hinchliffe, Principal. 


Learning and growth happen here. This is when we are at our best. When you and others are here conflict can be calmed and damage to relationships restored.

The key behaviours and attitudes are: Responsibility, Ownership, Acceptance and Reflection. Being mindful of the control we have over ourselves and how we feel means that we can choose to follow these, even our previous actions were below the line. “What happens comes from me – I have control”

Language and statements might include: “I have made a mistake“, “how can I make it right?“, “what can I learn from this“, “I take responsibility…“, “I feel…“, “I agree to…

Key beliefs are:

    • I am the creator of my wellbeing (comes from me – I have control)
    • there are more than two possibilities or opinions
    • I should question my thoughts and beliefs
    • I already have authority, approval and security


Learning is limited or blocked when you are below the line. This is when we are NOT at our best. It is very hard or impossible to calm or resolve conflict. Staying here caused more pain and things to get worse. The pain is caused to yourself and to others. 

The key BLOCKING behaviours and attitudes below the line are: Blame (self and/or others), Excuses, Denial, Deflection, Defensiveness, Drama. Things are happening to me or being done to me – I am choosing to have no control or be controlled. I am a victim.

Key behaviors and beliefs that can keep you below the line:

    • combating (arguing, hostility)
    • minimising (playing the impact of behaviour down)
    • generalising (simplifying, everybody does it)
    • externalising (attributing fault of responsibility to others; “no one told me; it’s not my job”)
    • criticising (pointing out the fault in others
    • being right is the most important thing

Language and statements might include: “it’s not my fault”, “their behaviour was worse than mine”, “I give up”, “I’m sorry, BUT…”, “it’s just boys being boys”, “I have to”. I need to be in control (of things I can’t control)

Other useful resources

external websites and videos that you may find helpful

Above the line in leadership