I once read a great proverb that went along the lines of “When you get to a fork in the road, choose the fork”.
I reckon it applies to the programs and approaches that support the improvement of student conduct in schools. You can have both.
Specifically, this applies to questions I’m frequently asked about the way that Restorative Practices (RP) compares with programs that schools are often choosing or mandated to implement – such as Positive Behaviour For Learning (PB4L) or School-Wide Positive Behaviour (SWPB).
There’s often a hint in that question that doing one of these OR working restoratively is the dilemma.
It really isn’t.
Programs such as PB4L and SWPB have strengths and weaknesses, as all programs do. They can produce positive outcomes in the short-term quite effectively and engender a sense of purpose and consistency in key stakeholders. And that’s a good thing.
But, programs do also tend to have a shelf life. In time, enthusiasm and results tend to flatten. Let’s be honest, do we see many behaviour programs that become foundational programs in schools for more than a few years?
What I like about RP is that it isn’t a program, it’s an approach to culture. Its weakness is that it requires more than some PD and some resources. It actually involves changing some mindsets and beliefs – which can be hard sometimes.
But its strength is undoubtedly it’s sustainability. RP isn’t an experiment about what might produce better results, but an opportunity for deep collective understanding of the rigorous research about how people learn to connect and how they grow.
This means that:
- the shelf-life or RP as a foundational feature of a school is much longer.
- It actually extends the shelf-life of complimentary programs like PB4L or SWPB.
The choice isn’t RP or a program. It’s whether you care about your program enough to support it with a framework for practice that can stand the test of time.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. I’m unpacking this RP thing for Teachers in Melbourne on Monday 24th May, in Sydney on Wednesday 2nd June and in Brisbane on Monday 14th June. I’d love your to register here for Restorative Classrooms, Strong Classrooms so I can give you a whole lot more.
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