“The Twilight Zone” is a popular American television series originally aired from 1959 to 1964. It is a science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthology series that explores strange and unusual events, the human condition and society. Maybe you have never seen the series, but the term resonates with being in an unfamiliar place, unsure of where you are or where to go next.
A fabulous educator described her school as being in the Twilight Zone in terms of their Restorative Practice journey. It really resonated with me. She could outline that they had a very clear vision of where they wanted to go, but it took a consistent focus on habit and behavioural changes to get there. She could articulate what she wanted to see regarding managing behaviour but also recognised the default processes creeping back in, especially when time poor, and when placed on the spot. Her ability to recognise and sit in the discomfort of the Twilight Zone shows great leadership. She acknowledged that change is, at times, uncomfortable and difficult. And reflection and readjustment are always needed.
Some tips to keep restorative changes on track:
- Re-evaluate and adjust the change plan: If the change is not taking hold as expected, reassess, and reflect upon what worked. You may need to try a different restorative strategy. For example, it may need a response circle instead of a 1:1 affective interaction.
- Stay committed: Cultural change can be a long and challenging process. All stakeholders must remain committed and keep the change effort moving forward, even when it gets tough.
- Address resistance: Resistance to change is a natural part of any cultural change effort. Leaders should actively address resistance by engaging employees, addressing their concerns, and communicating the benefits of the change.
- Celebrate progress: Regularly acknowledging and celebrating progress can help build momentum and strengthen teacher collective efficacy and engagement during the change process.
- Be patient: Cultural change takes time, and schools need to be patient and allow teachers and students to adjust to the new culture.
- Foster a culture of continuous improvement: School Leaders should embrace a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging employees to continuously seek ways to improve processes and adapt to new challenges.
Establishing a restorative school culture will take persistence. Leaders who recognise the discomfort zone, reflect, redirect, and stay committed will see the benefits fortify over time. This leader and school demonstrate all these qualities and will leave the Twilight Zone in no time!
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