Discipline & Restorative Justice

 

Discipline Policy

The school has a clearly developed and published discipline and guidance policy for students in the elementary school grades. This policy works on the principle of a whole school, no-blame, anti-bullying approach to behavior and discipline both inside and outside the classroom. The understanding is that both the person doing the bullying and the person being bullied needs the community’s support to outgrow this stage of development and to learn other ways of communicating in times of disagreement.

Click here to download a copy of the Santa Cruz Waldorf School Discipline Policy (PDF, 112 KB).

A sense of community among students is one focal point of attention for both faculty and parents. Respect and love for other beings are core elements of Waldorf education. Teachers at the SCWS are deeply committed to this principle and try not to miss an opportunity to bring an understanding of this to their students. Teachers observe the social fabric in their classrooms closely; they try to make use of all community building opportunities to help students resolve conflicts.

 

Restorative Practices

SCWS adopted Restorative Practices beginning in 2009 and continues to integrate these processes with the help of Restorative Resources Santa Cruz (restorativeresourcessc.org). Restorative Practices work in the social realm in a number of levels to support all members of the community. The purpose is to build relationships, increase harmony, and work things out when an action has occurred that breaks trust, safety, or connection. The school's Restorative Leadership Council is a parent/teacher/administrative body responsible to oversee this program.

Parents and teachers convene Sharing Circles with a talking piece as a way for everyone in a classroom or group to be heard and understood. Sharing Circles are helpful to deepen trust, increase listening and speaking skills, create belonging, foster learning, build respect, and promote social and emotional intelligence. Sharing Circles may be used to open or close the school day, share feelings and opinions, to celebrate, resolve conflict, communicate ideas, or reintegrate someone into a class.

Parents and teachers are encouraged to speak to children in ways that support "I" statements where honesty may be shared or empathy given. Affective Statements and Affective Questions are ways to draw children out and humanize authority figures and students. Mini (impromptu) Circles are held between those in conflict at the moment the conflict occurs, and employ both Affective Statements and Affective Questions. Students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades are trained to be Circle Keepers and facilitate Mini Circles with the younger students.

Restorative Circles are used when something has occurred to break trust, safety, and connection within our school. Facilitators and participants may come from anywhere in the school community and may be of any age. The process is built on inclusion. Set-up may take as a little as a few hours, and from that time, the process runs itself. Restorative Circles may integrate into the normal running of school/family/community life, while powerfully influencing relationships and behavioral choices. It's not magic; however, it works consistently when one adheres to the basic principles.

This model is based on the work of Dominic Barter who works in the juvenile justice and educational systems in Brazil. However, circles have been used in indigenous cultures for centuries to restore balance and wholeness. They are part of our cultural heritage.

Restorative Justice Circles restore harmony, trust, safety, and connection within organizations. Restorative Circles can be thought of as a way of making Non-Violent Communication (NVC) concrete for those who are experiencing conflict. There is no study involved. Participants work with their own, live issues, with each other. Facilitators and participants can come from anywhere in the school community and can be of any age. The process is built on inclusion. Set up can take as a little as a few hours, and from then on the process runs itself. Restorative Circles can integrate into the normal running of school/family/community life, while powerfully influencing relationships and behavioral choices. It's not magic, but it has been found to work consistently when those caring for it stick to the basic principles.

This model is based on the work of Dominic Barter who works in the juvenile justice and educational systems in Brazil. However, circles have been used in indigenous cultures for centuries to restore balance and wholeness. They are a part of our cultural heritage.

Restorative Circles work on 3 distinct levels:

  • Everyone involved is given explicit decision-making power over using, initiating and participating in a Circle.
  • It is designed to promote horizontal power relationships between those who use it.
  • It uses communication dynamics which guide those present through understanding and connection, to self-responsibility (needs awareness), and then action.

Many who have used this approach have been reassured by their experiences with it and have gained new respect and understanding for administrators and others who crave such clarity when dealing with something as important as growing human beings.