Posted on Friday / March 18
Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus Plan for Restorative Discipline
At Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, promoting scholars’ social and emotional well being is a key priority. A critical component of ensuring the social and emotional wellbeing of scholars is ensuring that our network has an effective plan for restorative discipline. In order to execute on this plan, Democracy Prep Public Schools partners with Morningside Center to create and implement restorative practices.
Morningside Center provides the following definition of restorative practices:
● “Restorative practices are a set of processes and tools that help us create a caring school community and keep that community whole. The premise is that people and relationships are valued first and foremost. When people make mistakes or cause harm, restorative practices can help them to understand the impact of their actions, heal the harm, and restore the community.”
This definition guides the implementation of our campus’s plan for restorative justice.
Democracy Prep has worked with Morningside Center to implement the following restorative practices that are included in Morningside’s programming:
● Training and coaching for school staff in social emotional learning (SEL) and restorative practices – Training and coaching help prepare staff members to facilitate, or “keep,” daily or weekly restorative circles for all students using an SEL curriculum.
● Restorative circles – Restorative circles allow all students to participate. They build community and strengthen social and emotional skills. They use a highly structured process, which includes sitting in a circle, passing a “talking piece” to speak, and placing a “center piece” (an object or words that are meaningful to the group) in the center of the circle. Over time, the circle becomes a community in which everyone feels heard and valued. In this environment, scholars have the opportunity to practice social and emotional skills including understanding and managing feelings, relating well to others, appreciating differences, and responding appropriately to conflict. These skills ultimately reduce the likelihood of future conflicts taking place, and when they do take place, scholars will be able to respond in restorative and productive ways.
● Training and coaching for staff in using restorative interventions– Staff will be prepared to effectively address situations in which harm has been done, allowing for alternatives to punitive discipline approaches. In this approach, the person who caused the harm meets with the person who was harmed along with other members of the community. A skilled facilitator guides these individuals to explore the impact of the harmful action and decide together how to heal the harm and restore the community.
● Support for staff in having courageous conversations about race– These trainings allow staff members to become more aware of the implicit and explicit barriers to creating equitable learning environments for all scholars.
● Support for principals and planning teams in rethinking school discipline policies – This support allows school leaders to ensure that policies are aligned to restorative practices that maximize scholars’ social and emotional wellbeing.
● Engaging parents and members of the school community– Engaging family members will allow families and schools to work together to support scholars’ development.
As noted by Morningside, these practices offer positive alternatives to more punitive forms of discipline, which often lead to disproportionately high rates of punishment and suspension amongst students of color. Morningside also notes that these practices offer positive impacts beyond the reduction of suspension rates; they also contribute to kinder and more productive classroom environments, improved social and emotional skills amongst students, increased cultural and racial awareness, and skill development in the fields of conflict resolution and problem-solving.