Restorative practices within Synergy School can help create a better culture of respect and responsibility. Difficult situations, rather than being an obstacle to education, can become an opportunity that teaches youth how to have empathy and regard for others.
All children are wired to LEARN and to be in RELATIONSHIPS. These two areas are central to restorative models that bring adults and students together for resolution processes, and promote a deep learning experience from new things said and heard. It may take a little more time to intentionally have conversations where adults talk WITH youth more than talk TO youth, but the payoff is usually worth it. Restorative conversations, either short and informal or planned and formal, amount to opportunities where ‘ah-ha’ type learning can happen, and relationships of trust can be strengthened.
Can kids change?
Ultimately, the hope is to keep a student in school rather than out of school, but specifically, to redirect that student so that he or she is actively taking part in personal improvements. Rather than matching a negative act with a negative consequence (and have a student return unchanged), the best kind of accountability matches a negative act with a positive plan of reparation and personal improvements that can be tracked for a specific period of time. That can be a real education, and chances are, a new relationship will likely rise out of the interaction where support and accountability go hand-in-hand.
ABOUT LISA: In addition to being a social worker, Lisa Simone is the safe school climate specialist and positive behavioral interventions and supports team leader at Synergy Alternative High School. Her passion is turning around the lives of at-risk youth.
Lisa has spent twelve years working in alternative education settings programming, counseling, and leading at-risk youth.