What is the purpose of school discipline? What are our intended outcomes as we respond to student behavior?
Most “misbehavior” is actually the developmental job of children and adolescents, who push up against (and sometimes through) the barriers, guidelines, rules, and expectations we set for them in their ongoing quest for self-regulation and independence. Chronic and extremely maladaptive behaviors can be signals that a child/adolescent has unmet needs, unsolved problems, or lagging skills (Dr. Ross Greene – http://www.livesinthebalance.org).
In either case, educators and others who work with youth have options when it comes to our responses to student behaviors … Traditional, punitive measures (detention, suspension, expulsion) are usually unsuccessful in changing behaviors or fostering personal growth. These responses tend to marginalize, isolate, and disconnect a student from the community, thereby making future misbehavior more likely. Punishment triggers fear, and often teaches lessons like: how not to get caught, how to place external blame, or how to manipulate the system.
A restorative approach, however, repairs, maintains, and strengthens relationships and connections while teaching self-reflection, empathy, and optimism. Even when it’s not possible to facilitate restorative circles, the critical components of a restorative process can change behavior in meaningful and lasting ways. We share some ideas in our Solutions Webcast: http://dropoutprevention.org/webcast/a-customizable-approach-to-restorative-justice-school-discipline-replacing-ineffective-punitive-consequences-with-human-centered-educational-practices/
AND check out this YouthToday article that references our workshop session at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice conference: