Accountability/Justice/Social Justice

January 9, 2018

 

This was actually so incredibly hard and also one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

 

When driving home one day I noticed a police officer who had pulled over someone on the road and felt a connection to him (and police officers in general) that I had not experienced before. Our jobs seem super similar just mine was with kids and also involved teaching. So much of our day as teachers is working with students on accountability and their behaviour in relation to how it impacts others and themselves. Walking instead of running the halls, being outside at recess instead of sneaking around in the school unsupervised, telling me where they are going, doing what they say they are going to do and behaving in trustworthy ways etc. The list goes on and on.  

 

It is really important to me to be good at this because of the connections it helps kids form with their community, their world around them and ultimately themselves. If we can help kids to relate with these things positively, whether they agree with the specific rule or not, we can help them to be critical thinkers about the world around them and to understand the importance of structures and boundaries in general. 

 

When I was younger I used to make fun of my Mom for being that person who would stop kids running whereever she was regardless of her "authority" in that place. (I may or may not have now become that same person.) The number of times I told my kids to go look again for that thing they barely looked for and could not find reminded me of my mother who said that relentlessly my whole life and could ALWAYS find the thing I "could not" find. My feeling of kinship to my mother "the enforcer'" is stronger than ever. 

 

Observations 

- All of the routines that I established from the very beginning of the year and did not stray from, were well implemented and successful early on. My next step in this area is to plan and structure my day with more of these routines to consistently help kids with structure and boundaries proactively. 

- Once I began addressing issues with specific strategies, they began to lessen regardless of what they were. Ie. it seemed as though the key to helping kids understand there were consequences for their actions, was to react with consequences. You do not have to know what the "right" response is for it to be effective. Ie. when I tried a bunch of different strategies to see which were most successful, the common denominator was that I was noticing, naming the issue and openly working on it and trying strategies to help them understand the effects of their actions. Although my class was WILD (and always have been) they responded well to this. 

- Peace table was very effective. There was a table in the hall called the peace table where kids could go with other kids to work out their problems. This required some modelling to help them to sit and work on their problems without just fighting and being defensive, but it ultimately worked very well and I will continue to use and expand on it next year. 

- Using admin ONLY when necessary worked very well. Sometimes students needed to go work in another space to help focus themselves or to sit at the office to have another set of eyes on them etc but did not yet need to talk to the principal etc. Only involving admin when it was REALLY necessary helped make it all the more impactful when I did. 

- Restorative justice approach to conflict seemed to resonate very well with the kids and focused on trying to heal the damage and fix the problem instead of blame etc.    

 

There is so much to learn in this exciting area!

 

Next steps: 

- Go through the school wide behaviour plan thoroughly to really understand the context of the rules with which I am situated to then design my own behaviour plan for next year

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