“Enough students are suspended every year to fill forty-five Super Bowl stadiums.” -US Department of Education
Whether a student is suspended, sent to the office, or disrupting a lesson, valuable class time is missed by the student and those affected by their actions. Research shows traditional ways of discipline are proving to be ineffective and even pushing students into the prison pipeline. Restorative Practice supports school districts by creating healthy, equitable, caring school communities by preventing and addressing behavioral disruption in a non-punitive way that supports accountability and healing.
In June of 2016, both Deb Golly and Melanie Kerns CA BOCES Special Education Supervisors attended the Restorative Practice Summit facilitated by the WNY Restorative Practices Team. This training provided an understanding of the power of using restorative practice in the educational setting. Guest speakers included Dr. Tom Cavanagh, researcher for Restorative Practice in Education, Ian Grugan, Criminal Justice Program Representative, Office of Juvenile Justice, Brian McLaughlin, Commissioner, Erie County Department of Probation, and Lori DeCarlo, Superintendent for Randolph Academy. Throughout this workshop participants had an opportunity to expand their knowledge in regards to building a culture of community in schools, participate in circle experiences, and gain a better understanding of restorative practice conferencing.
As the school year began, both Deb Golly and Melanie Kerns decided that it would be best practice to utilize this approach in both the Olean and Pioneer CA BOCES special education classrooms. On August 31st CA BOCES Special Education staff from both locations participated in a full day training to learn more about utilizing restorative practices in their settings. This training opportunity provided staff with an approach to proactively build positive school communities, an in depth understanding of the research behind restorative practice, and gaining an understanding of the spectrum behind restorative practices by providing a starting place for classroom level implementation. Staff had the opportunity to participate in experiential activities and break-out sessions that provided in depth discussion of the practice and opportunities for leadership practices through role play scenarios.
In order to dig deeper into Restorative Practice implementation with the CA BOCES Special Education staff both Deb and Melanie have established additional training and support for teachers throughout the 2016-17 school year.
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development