Building Connectedness and Fostering Emotional Literacy.
At Epping Views we employ an approach called ‘Restorative Practices’. Below is a short explanation of the background to the approach we have adopted to help manage behaviour at our school.
One of the biggest issues teachers face is how to manage the day to day difficulties and disruptions in the classroom or what we commonly refer to as “discipline”. Standard practices of discipline tend to rely on blame, alienation, exclusion and lead to disconnection from the school community.
Our standard disciplinary systems fail to address the core relational issues, based instead on the principle that an offence is a breach of the school rules and an offence against the school, akin to our judicial system. Our standard disciplinary systems ask 3 questions:
Who is to blame?
What rule did they break? and
What is the punishment?
Alternatively, Restorative Practices is grounded in the principle that when something happens, it harms and damages relationships. A different set of questions are asked:
Who has been harmed/affected? and
What do we need to do to repair that harm?
It is only when I can take responsibility for what I have done and how that has affected you, that you will feel safe enough to tell me how I have harmed you and together we can explore what needs to happen to make amends. Rather than stigmatising and excluding students, it is saying – you are part of our community, we value you, but your behaviour in this instance is not OK. So what do we need to do to include you back into our Community?
The term Restorative Practices describes a range of informal and formal practices that assist in the development of social literacy at three levels:
1. The informal preventative and proactive strategies and practices that build and strengthen relationships
2. Problem solving around day to day problems, difficulties and conflicts and
3. Formal interventions to deal with significant issues of harm, with a focus on repairing relationships when something has happened to damage our Community
1. The Informal Preventative/Proactive Level.
Dr. Louise Porter author of ‘Children are People Too’ suggests that we need to teach children to be considerate. To be considerate, children need to develop 4 skills:
* Personal accountability – an autonomous, independent understanding of right from wrong – in the absence of anyone telling them
* Responsibility for self and the ability to manage their emotions – using ‘I’ language
* The capacity to cooperate and work with others – even when they may not feel like it, and
* A sense of personal potency – that they know that they can make a difference for themselves, for others, make decisions that affect them and act on their own sense of right and wrong