On Feb. 15, Dehesa staff participated in a half-day training session to learn more about restorative justice and how it can best be applied within an academic environment to integrate students with behavior difficulties.
Restorative Justice is a disciplinary approach that focuses on resolving a problem through inclusive processes that involve the participation of the whole community. By transforming discipline from punishment to an opportunity to learn, students can focus on their actions and become part of the solution.
To practice restorative justice, a school must build a community where everyone feels valued and heard, including students, educators, parents, and other members of the community. It is important to create a safe environment that allows for complete participation, open communication, shared values, accountability.
Once a strong community has been established, educators can apply restorative justice and utilize alternative discipline techniques that focus on heightened communication; educators ask restorative questions as a response to challenging behavior and to help the victims harmed by other people’s actions.
Students displaying challenging behavior may be asked a series of questions that help them identify the reasons and consequences of their actions in order to make amends: What happened? What were you thinking at the time? What have you thought about since? Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way? What do you think you need to do to make things right?
Students who have been affected by a problem are also asked a series of questions that validate their emotions and helps them understand how the issue can be resolved to restore harmony: What impact has this incident had on you and others? What has been the hardest thing for you? What did you think when you realized what had happened? What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
The Dehesa staff has participated in two restorative practice trainings, which helped staff reaffirm their relationship with all students, and there will be a one-hour coaching session in every Dehesa classroom in the upcoming months. The training will be provided by representatives from Verbal Behavior Associates, who will assist each teacher create the optimal classroom environment in which students of all ability levels can succeed.
About the Dehesa School District
Founded in April 5, 1876, the Dehesa School District is one of the oldest school districts in San Diego County. It serves students from kindergarten to 8th grade and consists of a single school located in the eastern part of the county. The district provides each student with an equal opportunity to excel academically and acquire the skills necessary to succeed beyond the classroom. Dehesa School is governed by a five-member school board and the Superintendent, Nancy Hauer.