Culturally Relevant Discipline
Despite the immense difference in student profile and student needs, the overall structure of school remains rather traditional, enforcing the privilege of some groups, and ignoring the simple rights of others. Discipline practices have similarly reflected few changes. Students are expected to sit and comply... still, no different from centuries ago. However, we know that this is not what kids need, and that many things have changed across the centuries.
Several things have helped me come to several realizations. (1) PBF, Positive Behavior Facilitation,(2) Adaptive Schools from Learning Forward, (3) AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, and (4) Growth Mindset research have seemingly revolutionized my interactions with students across the last several years and opened up my eyes even wider to the importance of knowing myself, and being observant of others around me in order to get past the surface and get to know my students. (Wow... that was quite the lengthy sentence.) Learning about and trying to simultaneously apply the knowledge of all of these things, led me to understand how they were all linked. Usually PD is overwhelming because when it's good you want to do it all and feel like you can change the world, but then you remember that you're just one person and it's all too much for you to do. However, realizing that people are at the center of it all has guided me to the understanding that as a teacher, you have to believe in your students as people, as humans. That one fundamental belief has unlocked the door to many conversations, and opened the door to many more relationships with students.
I am not an expert in restorative practices, but I believe that this is yet another way to focus on relationships, and more importantly mend the many broken relationships that our school system has established by continuing to serve and meet the needs of the privileged. Below are some links to resources I have started exploring to open my mind up to an alternative to the traditional discipline system. I would love to know more, hear your success stories, hear about your failures, and help grow and change discipline in our schools.