Every school wants to improve and many are planning now for that ambition in 2023.
However, I’d contend that restorative school cultures have a better chance at improvement across multiple ambitions than schools that choose control-based cultures.
Which one is your school? Run your school’s tendencies against these ambitions and ask which column your school would default to:
|Ambition||Restorative approach||Control approach|
|Improve student language||Make adjustments to the conditions in which conversations happen.||Look to “stop kids swearing” with a Term 1 focus on a zero-tolerance approach to swearing.|
|Improve uniform compliance||Involve the students in messaging to the community about identity, belonging and connection.||Stamp out non-compliance through an unsustainable crackdown based on immediate consequences.|
|Improve student engagement||Use classroom architecture that reduces teacher talk in favour of mobilising students in their learning.||Focus on teacher performance at the front of the room and judgement of that performance by leaders who rarely teach.|
|Improve student responsibility for their actions and self-regulation||Approach wrongdoing with an intention for the student to be thanked quickly for taking the responsibility to repair relational harm.||Increase the length of student punishments, resulting in longer periods of shame and removing any opportunity to take personal responsibility.|
|Improve teacher capacity||Provide skills/training, ensure the psychological safety to fail and provide opportunity to practice.||Remove supports by insisting that teachers handle fractious students themselves and judge them on whether it worked or not.|
|Improve parental buy-in and support||Drip feed parents with your expertise, progress and successful case studies about learning and citizen building.||Communicate about events and recognise only high achievers instead of progress.|
|Improve student voice||Create classroom experiences where students are asked more questions and are in constant discussion.||Buy a Student Leadership Program and task an emerging leader to run it with a miniscule percentage of your student population.|
|Improve anything||Focus on small changes to context with the potential for impact and progress.||Aim for perfection, absolutes, miracles and eradication.|
So, which one is your school? No, really?
And for some bonus provocation … which column reeks of hard work and the misery of unrealised ambitions for your staff?
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. There’s still time to discuss what a restorative Real Schools Partnership can do for your school in 2023 and well beyond. Here’s some schools who’ve done just that:
Reply to this email if you wouldn’t mind a chat about your school being next.
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