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Yard Duty

In our Partner Schools, we talk about making every square inch of the school restorative. It’s a clear determination that there not be places where Restorative Practices don’t apply or are optional.

One of the places where this can be hardest is in the yard. Let’s be honest, if we didn’t do yard duty to provide a hint of surveillance for our students, it’d be ‘Lord Of The Flies’ on steroids out there some days.

Leaning into a restorative yard duty stint is about remembering that working restoratively is about letting go of the outcomes and leaning into the simple language and processes you can deploy with the time that you have available – and that’s often not much.

And so, we like to make our yard duty commitments as a staff really informal, in preference to formal and cumbersome commitments like form-filling and database entry for the infinite number of bonkers things that can happen in the yard.

I reckon it works better.

How about your yard duty protocols were just:

  1. Don’t rock up late for the party. It pisses your colleagues off no end when you’re late to your shift in the yard.
  2. Approach students with curiosity rather than accusation. Actually, ask them how they manage to play a complex sport like cricket without an umpire and without a fight. It’s quite a miracle when you think about it.
  3. Be a blowfly, not a lighthouse. Don’t stand in one spot shining an accusing light on any mischief. Buzz around.
  4. Spread Affective Statements like confetti. You can squeeze dozens into just a 15-minute yard shift.
  5. Rapid Past>Present>Future. Solve any spats, conflicts or poor choices with a quick chat that gets kids thanked for taking some kind of responsibility themselves.
  6. Reject nowness. Yep, made-up word, I know. Now is a killer. You don’t have to deal with every issue on the spot. Feel free to catch up later on with a student if you think it gives you a better chance of a positive interaction.

And now, imagine your staff occasionally chatting about how we do those six commitments faster and better.

I contend that you’ll have a staff that’s consistent on yard duty and less worried about it too.

They might even be on time.


Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. PS. Get ready for an exciting announcement! I’ll be hosting two workshops, “Restorative Classrooms, Strong Classrooms” and “The Art of School Culture Leadership”, in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Perth. With limited places available, secure your spot before anyone else by pre-registering here. Be the first to know about the dates and other important updates!


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