Being a member of the School Discipline Committee, I feel pained and failing whenever any child of the school is suspended or expelled for a short or long duration causing any minor or major breach of school norm violations. Whereas disciplinary action by the schools so often become direst necessity, nevertheless number of cases of […]
Being a member of the School Discipline Committee, I feel pained and failing whenever any child of the school is suspended or expelled for a short or long duration causing any minor or major breach of school norm violations. Whereas disciplinary action by the schools so often become direst necessity, nevertheless number of cases of indiscipline can be brought to a lesser degree if the schools administrators, discipline in charges, teachers move away from harmful and counterproductive ‘zero tolerance discipline’ policies to ‘restorative discipline approaches’ to amicably address conflicts in schools .
Restorative Discipline Approach:
Restorative discipline approaches as a behavior modification and development programme are procedures are practices that proactively build deeper sense and values among learning community and aims to prevent conflicts and wrongdoings. Restorative discipline approaches help to restore positive and healthy bonds among students, between teachers and learners. Regular, well planned and thoroughly implemented practices of restorative discipline help to bring core values a school must bring for its progress and success.
Restorative Discipline practices:
The concept of restorative discipline, also known as restorative justice derived from the criminal justice system where it originated — is to change the culture and climate of a school so that students who demonstrate unaccepted and negative behavior are given a voice and listened to as a way to get to the root of the problem. Kicking kids out of school for problem behavior is a quick, easy response, but it solves nothing and simply breeds more problem behavior. Various researches and study done in many schools reveal those classrooms with a high level of restorative practices reduce the cases of misconduct referrals for major or minor defiance. It also results into improving school environment and builds healthy teacher-learner relationships.
Need for Restorative Practices in Schools:
In schools, we see that overreliance on traditional punitive strategies like alienation, suspension or expulsion of children on minor or major discipline concerns isn’t working well. Just while completing this article I was shocked to watch a video that went viral showing students in a classroom badly trashing and punching a classmate in front of other classmates. Sadly, a month ago in October this year a Student of class IX was beaten to death by classmates in Jaunpur. While dealing with such behavioral concerns, a couple of months ago a reputed school taking punitive disciplinary measures ostensibly forced their students to tonsure their heads publicly. However, the step was right or wrong is not the issue but it shows how our reputed schools are dealing with the school discipline concerns. Similarly, common thefts cases, abusive exchanges among children are quite general issues where very comprehensive strategic action plan is needed to address these untoward incidents.
Advantages of Restorative Discipline Practices:
Help Students Improve their behavior and strengthen their learning:
Help valuable verbal skills for building amiable society and identity problem solving skills among students.
Help building mutual trust and respect.
Help reducing student misbehaviors, misconduct.
Help strengthening students’ self-regulation skills.
Respond effectively to problematic behavior for better changes.
To find constructive alternatives to suspension and detention
Focusing more on teaching and learning rather than on bad behavior deterrent punitive practices.
Restorative Discipline Planning and Practices:
Just before any school wants to follow restorative discipline practices, it is utmost urgent to have a team of leader teachers and student leaders to assess review the major discipline issues and behavior concerns of the students to be taken under the restorative discipline practices though out the term or the year. This plan must pin point the key issues taken under restorative practices and the people and resources to be engaged.
Responsibility and Problem Solving:
Unlike the traditional authoritarian approaches where the responsibility of breaking rules or violation is fixed on who did it and face the consequences, restorative discipline practices adhere to what harm was done and how to repair it. It offers the ways to go through the problem keeping in view to solve it and repair the damages. Whereas punitive measures give way to the more problems to come, restorative practices help find solution acceptable to the sufferer and the troublemakers.
Dialogues and Negotiations:
Every institution wants to avoid embarrassing situations caused by undisciplined behavior either by children or other school members. Under restorative approaches the bad behavior is checked by dialogues and negotiations. In resolving conflicts the dialogues and interventions help to resolve conflicts. These practices not only help to mend broken walls but help to strengthen relationships that help to sustain healthy school culture.
Meeting and addressing the unmet behavior needs:
Under restorative discipline practices unmet behavior needs are seen as natural instincts that must get an outlet diversion and channelization towards right direction. Minor or major cases of unworthy behavior are the outlet of emotional disorders caused by many reasons. Under restorative discipline approaches these matters are neutralized through acceptance and modification. The major tools used to address these concerns are sharing responsibilities, monitoring the causes without stressing upon consequences.
Forming Restorative Circle:
A Restorative circle is a school community dialogue and negotiation programme for supporting those in conflict. Restorative circle brings together the three parties to a conflict – those who have acted, those directly impacted and the wider school community – within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals. In restorative circle Participants invite each other and attend voluntarily. The dialogue process used is shared openly with all participants, and guided by a community of well prepared and skilled leader. The process ends when actions have been found that bring mutual benefit. The circle turns wise turn, discuss the conflict, reach out argument and ends with an agreement mutually acceptable to the whole group and community at large.
Our schools across the globe are undergoing transformation not only in academics but towards improvements in school environment. We need to bring more effective and healthy school culture bringing school community together. No school or teacher likes to act like a policeman controlling the crowd and no child likes to be seen as a criminal getting punishment for his wrongdoings. Restoratives discipline as a school reformation programme save the schools’ precious time that is often spent resolving discipline issues. It may also lessen the number of suspension and rustication orders put in files of the schools’ discipline committees.
ASHOK SINGH GULERIA
Ashok Singh Guleria teacher of 21 years standing is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. Currently, he works as Head of Department of English, curriculum planner and Academic coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools run by Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. The author strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity embodied with a strong sense of work culture through which initiative and change can emerge in an educational institution. He can be reached out at email@example.com