Blog posts tagged with "School Climate"
Over the last decade a variety of factors have coalesced and contributed to significant changes in how schools address discipline issues. As a result of pressure from the government, coupled with a recognition that suspensions are often meted out disproportionately and often don’t result in improved behavior, schools are moving away from “zero-tolerance” policies and toward alternative approaches that are more effective.
It’s clear that our children have not gone unscathed in the current political climate. Bullying and cyber-bullying, already a major problem in America’s schools, have now been exacerbated by an elevated awareness in student’s minds of homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny and xenophobia. Just like the rest of us, young people are trying to make sense of what they’ve heard and seen in the “adult world”, and they’re acting out from a place of confusion, frustration, fear and heightened stress.
One of our forward thinking principals had already brought the Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) to our district, having learned of it from a friend in another district. As our JPA promoted SSA to more schools, we determined that beside the social and cultural benefits of reducing acts of bullying, it was also likely to reduce the number of insurance claims.
Since restorative practices is not a program or a curriculum, but rather a philosophy and a way of thinking and acting, introducing restorative practices to the students’ families in an inclusive, collaborative and culturally sensitive manner is critical for success.
Research shows that suicide-related behaviors are caused by a myriad of factors, and are often not related to a single cause or incident. We also know that bullying/cyberbullying is one of the contributing factors in students turning to suicide as a “solution” to their problems.
Far too often, students who begin or end their day with what should be a peaceful and fun time, instead find themselves the targets of teasing, taunting or isolation on their school bus. Here's what we can do about it.
Restorative Practices teach social-emotional skills and help build a strong caring community that experiences fewer harmful acts of mistreatment. Restorative Justice moves schools away from punishing students for their harmful acts towards helping them correct their behavior, thus restoring a sense of community and well-being for all those who have been impacted, as well as for the school at large.
When school norms change from meanness and indifference to kindness and compassion, that’s when disciplinary incidents and suspensions begin to decrease and students can get back to focusing on learning.
Just like in the real world, it’s important to recognize that as wonderful as the internet can be when it comes to sharing information, learning, and even connecting with the people we care about - it also has a darker side. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for children to stray into the seedier parts of the online world without even realizing what they’re doing.
It’s déjà vu all over again, as another start to the school year is upon us. This is a time to reconnect to our reasons for caring about students and doing all we can to ensure that they attend schools where they feel welcome, safe and connected to caring adults.
When we take a sober look at harassment and bullying in school communities, we know that anti-gay bullying is rampant and often unchecked. As students realize their sexual identity and gender orientation younger, it is essential that this school community’s population have the emotional support to ensure their mental and physical health and well-being.
There is increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of implementing school climate improvement reform. To address both the opportunities and the challenges, a clear and compelling climate roadmap for schools is needed...
In 2014 at an International Bullying Conference, I was introduced to a Japanese organization called Learning Disabilities of Kanagawa (LDAK). LDAK was intrigued by Community Matters’ Whole School Climate approach. They had reviewed our Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA) program and wondered whether the embedded principles of bystander education -- waking up the courage of kids to say and do the right thing -- would transfer to their culture, and to their schools.
Many people come to Restorative Practices believing that it is a discipline program. However, it is more effective to view Restorative Practices as a way of thinking and a set of proactive strategies and processes that reduce misbehavior, thereby reducing the need for discipline.
As educators and caring adults, we’re always looking for ways to reduce students’ risky behavior, increase their attendance and improve their achievement. What we have often failed to recognize is that student empowerment is the most effective strategy for reaching these desired outcomes. Empowering youth requires seeing students through a strength-based lens, not a deficit-based one; viewing young people as assets and not problems.
Dr. King said that “we must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” Although he spoke those words a long time ago, the need for courage in the face of fear is no less prophetic today than it was in the midst of the American civil rights movement of the 60’s.
Based on California Healthy Kids Survey data, Sonoma County youth continue to report alcohol use rates, binge drinking and marijuana use that ranks in the highest 10% in our state. For educators, one of the most alarming and significant consequences of this behavior is the impact of substance and alcohol use on the developing adolescent brain, as well as the increased risk of addiction.
As a Programs & Services Coordinator at Community Matters, I have the unique opportunity of working with hundreds of schools across the country to help them launch Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA)- our flagship bystander education and youth empowerment program. One of the best parts of my job is hearing student feedback on the two-day training.
I know I wasn't the worst, but I sure didn't help. When I was in high school and all of my friends were picking on C.L., I joined in without a thought.
Increasing student voice and utilizing a peer-to-peer role-modeling approach is the quickest, most cost efficient and effective way to change the social norms on campus and reduce bullying, cyber-bullying and harassment.
The good news is that within the new Local Control Funding Formula requirements, school climate is one of eight areas of primary focus for improvement, signaling an increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of improving school climate for better academic and social outcomes.
Young people often don’t possess the discernment needed to make good decisions about what they should and shouldn’t post on social media. Here are six ways we can support students in being "cyber-safe".
Back-to-school is obviously an exciting time, yet for many children, starting the new year can seem like a minefield filled with risk, vulnerability and concern for their safety. Here are some concrete and effective actions you can take to help your students start the school year with the best chance for success:
Although we can never be sure exactly where it starts, the culture of sports hazing has been around a long time. One way to describe this phenomena is that it’s behavior modelled by others in a superior positon which I adopt as my own once I have been elevated to that place of superiority or power.
The evidence-based Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) empowers elementary, middle and high school students to recognize mistreatment when it’s happening, to have the courage and skills to intervene, and to transform it into self-awareness, kindness and compassion.
As bullying, cyberbullying and intolerance affect more and more children, it’s increasingly crucial that adults, both parents and teachers, increase their awareness and understanding of how their children interact with each other, both in person and online. Here are some practical steps you can take to better protect the young people in your care.
In Part 2 of this series, in which we are outlining 5 key strategies for successful implementation of Restorative Practices (RP), we will cover:
- Staff Engagement / Overcoming Resistance
- Using Systems Thinking
- Strategic, Incremental Implementation
In this 2-part series we outline 5 key strategies for successful implementation of restorative practices (RP). In this first part we will address the first two:
- Strong Leadership / Leading Restoratively
- Creating a Learning Organization
There’s no way around it… whether you’re conversant and comfortable with the “ins and outs” of data collection and measurement - or not - at the end of the day, data drives decisions. That’s why it’s important to understand what the data is illustrating about climate and then to select measures that are easy to collect and simple to explain.
One thing for sure is that there is no shortage of plans, lists of to do’s or action steps to be taken when it comes to improving our schools. However, too often those plans don’t ever reach their intended or desired end results. Somewhere between the plan and execution, things break down.
Why? In the 15 plus years we have been assisting schools in school safety and school climate change, we’ve identified some critical missteps...
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