May 16, 2022

Bridging the Faculty/Admin Divide (Ep. 6): Discipline & Restorative Practices

This week’s grand finale of our season of “Bridging the Faculty/Admin Divide” brings together seventh grade English teacher (and host) Dean Julius to discuss disciplinary systems with Dean of Students, Jen Whitt, and Head of Middle School, Clay Elliot.


Skip to what you are most interested in below: 


4:07-5:25: Why a good discipline system should be based on the mission of the school, which in our case involves “respecting the dignity of every human,” and why detentions might not be the best way to get there. 


5:26-6:32: How restorative justice foregrounds education, why no school can purely enact this model, and the usefulness of a graduated ladder of consequences that everyone understands.


7:15-8:45: A quick definition of restorative justice, and why it is key to find ways for offenders to re-enter the community having learned from the experience.


8:48-10:00: How this looks in practice for us at St. Andrew’s.


10:01-12:05: Jen shares what she has observed to be the most challenging part of this process and shares why being an upstander is a key piece of the method as well. 

13:07-17:37: The complex interplay of teacher life reality with these restorative approaches, and why Clay says that it can take 5-10 years to really make a school culture shift in this direction. 


17:38-20:58: How these methods fit our often-conservative context of the deep south, a surprising truth about Dean Whitt’s childhood, and the recognition that “it’s messy and it takes time and everyone will eventually get there, but when you’re in the moment, it takes a leap of faith to know that it is going to be okay in a few years.”


21:00-23:45 : Conversations about the need for conversation; the power of circles in restorative justice.


23:47-25:47: Clay reminds us: “[This form of discipline] is hard and tiring, but empathy is hard.”


25:47-29:00: Dean asks for more conclusive data about the way these approaches more fairly treat traditionally disenfranchised groups, and Clay shares some research on outcomes in perceived wellbeing. 


29:05-30:18- Jen shares a concrete example of how this all plays out in dress code violations.


30:25-31:38: Why no single system for discipline can fix inequity.


31:40-34:52 - Is there a place for the “teacher voice” and resulting student shame in these approaches? 


34:53-35:50: Why Jen likes the word “accountability” more than shame. 


36:09-37:25: A surprising truth about the greatest disparity in detention-assignments.

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