The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 134 Transcript
Jennifer Gonzalez, host
GONZALEZ: When students behave in ways that are disruptive, when they do things that harm others, or when they otherwise make choices that go against established rules, schools often respond with punishment: removal from class, a phone call home, detention, suspension, even expulsion if the behavior is considered extreme enough.
It’s been this way forever, at least in traditional western schools, and most of the time, these punishments don’t really work. Sure, they remove the student from the situation, temporarily stopping the challenging behavior. And it could be argued that in general, many students choose to follow the rules because the threat of punishment acts as a deterrent; they don’t want to get in trouble, so an acceptable level of order is maintained.
But punishments don’t really do anything to address or correct the source of the misbehavior, and most of the time, they do nothing to fix any damage that may have been caused by it. On top of that, exclusionary punishments like suspensions create their own set of problems: When students are removed from class, they miss instruction, putting them behind their classmates and making them more likely to fail academically. This often leads to higher dropout rates and puts far too many students—especially students of color—on the path to prison.
After decades of using these ineffective practices, more schools are turning to restorative justice, an approach to student behavior that originated in the criminal justice system. We’ve talked about restorative justice on the podcast before, in episode 89, where Victor Small, Jr and I did a broad overview to RJ.
Now I’m going to narrow the lens to one specific restorative practice called repairing harm, which is when, instead of simply being sent off to a punishment, a student who has misbehaved is tasked with figuring out how to repair whatever damage was caused by their behavior, and then to actually carry out that repair with everyone who was impacted by their actions.
My guests today are Brad Weinstein and Nathan Maynard, authors of the book Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy & Responsibility Using Restorative Justice. In the book, Brad and Nathan share the restorative justice strategies they’ve used successfully for years with students, and in this episode, they’re going to take us step-by-step through one of those: the process of repairing harm after a misbehavior.
Before we get started, I’d like to thank ViewSonic for sponsoring this episode. ViewSonic transforms classrooms into immersive learning environments. Their education solutions drive engagement, energize and motivate students, and make teaching more fun. From ViewBoard interactive displays and myViewBoard digital whiteboarding software to projectors and monitors, ViewSonic’s award-winning solutions are here to help teachers stay connected and collaborate in their classrooms. To learn more, visit viewsonic.com/education.
Support also comes from Public Consulting Group. PCG is a national organization that supports teachers and school districts in providing high quality professional development. PCG’s online professional learning catalog is approved for continuing education credits nationwide, allowing teachers a cost-effective and efficient way of engaging in professional development, leading to license renewal and pay increase. PCG’s courses range from short 1-hour workshops to in-depth graduate level courses, allowing teachers to create a customized playlist of content to meet their individual career needs. PCG has teamed with leading educational experts to bring you valuable tricks, tools, and strategies for immediate application in your classroom. You’ll also receive individualized coaching from PCG’s virtual facilitators throughout your course. PCG believes that the learning never ends and they want to help you help your students succeed. Visit cultofpedagogy.com/PCG to find out more and use the code CULT20 to get $20 off your first course.
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Now, here’s my interview with Nathan Maynard and Brad Weinstein about repairing harm.
GONZALEZ: So I’m having you on to talk a little bit about changing the way that we do school discipline. And what we’re going to do is we are going to sort of talk broadly for just a minute about restorative justice and what that means so that people listening are kind of on the same page. But then we’re going to really, really narrow it down to one specific practice that is related to restorative justice. So before we get started, and we’re doing all this because you guys wrote this book, “Hacking School Discipline” that focuses all on restorative justice. So before we get started, just if you could and I’ll, Nathan, I’ll have you go first. Tell us just a little bit about, you know, who you are and what you do.
MAYNARD: Yeah definitely. So my name is Nathan Maynard. I am the co-author of the book “Hacking School Discipline.” I am also the co-founder of BehaviorFlip, which is the first restorative behavior management software system. I also do practice or restorative practices and trauma-informed behavioral practices as a trainer, and I’m a father of a 4-year-old son.
GONZALEZ: All right. And are you a classroom teacher right now? Do you work in a school?
MAYNARD: Yeah, so I was the dean of culture over at a school called Purdue Polytechnic High School. I recently transitioned out at the end of last year to sort of pursue this restorative practices journey.
GONZALEZ: Got it, got it. Okay. And then Brad, how about you?
WEINSTEIN: I, I am also the co-author of “Hacking School Discipline” and the co-founder of BehaviorFlip. Like Nathan said, it’s the very first restorative practice software. I have a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, so I’m a little bit busy at home. And I also left to pursue this journey of restorative practices and spreading the word to schools all throughout the world.
GONZALEZ: Got it, got it. And were, were you, both of you or either of you at one point in time just sort of regular classroom teachers, and then you sort of moved in this direction?
WEINSTEIN: I was, I was a classroom teacher for more than a decade, principal, and then I was a director of curriculum and instruction. So I’ve done multiple roles in education. And Nathan, you talk about what you did.
MAYNARD: Yeah, so I started out, my first eight years I worked in the juvenile justice field, so I worked with kids that were at-risk at a residential treatment care center. So I did that for a while. And then I went into education. So I, I’ve only been in education for about four years now. I got started as a guidance counselor then went sort of to college career readiness coordinator, then a position similar to an assistant principal, and then I became the dean of culture over at that Purdue school.
GONZALEZ: Got it. Okay, so your background comes from sort of corrections and discipline and, and all of that stuff.
MAYNARD: Yeah, definitely.
GONZALEZ: Okay. So we’re going to talk a little bit before we dig into this specific strategy about the book itself. Tell me a little bit about what made you guys want to write it. And, and also give us a little introduction to restorative justice and how it differs from traditional school discipline.
WEINSTEIN: Well, when we’re, when we’re talking about restorative practices and how it differs, it focuses on proactiveness, on relationships, maintaining relationships, and repairing the harm when harm is caused. So in general, how it differs, and we’re going to get more into it later of course, but the big difference is that we’re looking on ways to build relationships and maintain relationships with students, and how to make things right when something goes wrong. So it’s really simple in theory. In action, we’re going to talk about some specific strategies that we can do for it. We’re trying to get away from the punitive side of things, where a student does something wrong, and then they get punished for it, versus some sort of way in which we can actually help the student learn from it.
GONZALEZ: Got it.
WEINSTEIN: When we’re thinking about our book and what made us want to write it and how it differs, what made us want to write it really was that Nathan, when I met Nathan, he had come, and he has a lot of experience working with students and students, people just in general from the juvenile justice system, and I have a traditional educational background. So what happened was is that when we started talking, we realized that we both brought big strengths, because traditionally, a lot of people don’t have that juvenile justice background.
WEINSTEIN: They’ve only started in the classroom and when Nathan and I started talking, we were combining our ideas for how can we help the kids at the classroom level, but how can we help the kids that need way more help than a teacher can traditionally provide. And when we started talking, what happened was when I was a high school principal, I made this Google spreadsheet where I wanted to actually track behaviors and make sure that when we’re looking at a kid, when we have intervention with a kid, are they actually changing their behavior, are they getting the supports that they need? And we’re, we’re a bunch of data nerds, so what we did was, we realized that we don’t have the data we need to make changes, and we don’t have the data we need to know if what we’re doing is actually working.
WEINSTEIN: So when we wrote this software idea together, Nathan and I started looking at it, and he was like, hey, we should make this an app. And at first I was like, yeah right, no. We don’t know anyone who can make an app, that kind of thing. And then all of a sudden, a couple of months later, he’s like, hey, I know this guy. And all of sudden BehaviorFlip was born. So what we did was we took data that was on a spreadsheet and then we put it basically at a whole new level where we have teacher access, student access, administrator access, school district access, and we can really track recidivism and make sure that we’re enacting change. And, so, so the software is pretty revolutionary in that no other software out there does restorative practices at all. It’s mostly just, you know, getting points and losing points.
WEINSTEIN: Which doesn’t improve behavior in our opinion. That’s just a carrot and stick kind of system. Whereas in our system, we want to make sure that a student actually gets the help they need to change behaviors. So if they do something and we want to actually record, did the student repair the harm with an action, instead of, did they mask it with a positive discipline points that is completely unrelated to the action that they caused harm with.
WEINSTEIN: And in general, the more I witness and read and see on social media, the more I realize the punitive practices don’t work. We’ve, we’ve known for a long time that that’s not working, but the interesting thing is, is that even though we’ve seen all of this data for years suggesting that it doesn’t work, it doesn’t change things, the same kids keep on getting in trouble, the same groups of students keep on getting in trouble, and nothing is really changing, and we’ve known this for a long time now, and we’re expecting the kids to change, and we’re expecting the kids to adhere to our practices, when the reality is that kids are changing and we need to make sure that we can meet their needs. So we, we wanted to actually write a book where we’re looking at relationships as a focus. So how do we build relationships, how do we feed those relationships, how do we repair those relationships when damage is caused versus how do we kick a kid out of the room when they’re causing the disruption to the class? What we notice is that when students get in trouble at school, and then the students continue to get in trouble at school, I mean if you’re suspended once, you have a much higher chance of ending up in the juvenile justice system your freshman year.
WEINSTEIN: If you get suspended two or three times, you are astronomically at a higher risk of going to the school to prison pipeline. So what we noticed is that we are putting kids into this pipeline who are doing minor things. You know, every once in a while, you know, there’ll be bigger issues where students will get in fights, drugs, alcohol, things like that. But we’re putting students out of school for minor issues like being tardy, for minor insubordination.
WEINSTEIN: And for little, for little things, and at a much higher percentage of students of color, right?
WEINSTEIN: So we’re a lot, we’re a lot harsher and we have a lot more severe punishments in those cases. So when we put students out, that’s when that happens, and Nathan and I have both had experiences, where a kid has done something pretty minor. We suspended that kid because that was school policy, and while that kid was suspended, they did something where they got thrown in prison. They had the time to actually, you know, I had a kid who actually committed a pretty bad crime and is in life in prison right now because he, and he did that when he was suspended from school for minor things.
GONZALEZ: Wow, yeah. And it just snowballs from something that probably could have been deescalated or, or dealt with in a different way. So in the book “Hacking School Discipline” you share nine different strategies, or they’re called hacks in the book, but these are, these all come from, you know, years and years of restorative practices, you know, from a lot of different practitioners. But these are all strategies for implementing restorative justice. What we’re going to do is just focus on one of these, which I, I have seen has been a key component in any restorative justice program, which is called repairing harm. In schools that use traditional discipline practices, students who misbehave are typically given a punishment, which usually excludes them in some way, in detention, suspension, expulsion, and then they return to class. So with restorative justice, the approach is very different when, when there’s some type of a misbehavior. So talk us through what it means to do repairing harm as opposed to just punishing a student, and why that works better.
MAYNARD: Yeah, yeah. So repairing the harm as a concept is pretty simple. When you think about it, it’s when you break something or damage it, you just have to fix it, that’s all. So a lot of the old mantra is, you know, when you have pound of flesh for wrongdoing, we don’t need to, you know, sort of, you know, think about that. We need to think about, you know, what was harmed, how to move forward with that. We also need to not take things personal. So especially when we’re thinking about the way that kids’ brains are developed or underdeveloped in situations and how they respond to it, especially kids with trauma and how they take sensitive situations very personal. We cannot take their response personally when we’re dealing out, you know, that next steps. So that’s why repairing the harm sort of works. Another reason why it works is because it’s logical. It has consequences that match up to the misbehavior, and it doesn’t spark as much anxiety in students.
MAYNARD: So the students aren’t triggered to their opposition mode and can focus on sort of what happened and how to move forward. Just for like one example is, you know, there’s a student that I was working with one time, and I jumped to a punitive situation with her too quickly, and it escalated. She didn’t have her shirt tucked in. It was the third time, it was a Friday. I’d asked her multiple times to tuck in her shirt throughout that week. I just said, hey, let’s come to the office. I told you before, you know, if the shirt continues to be untucked, we’re going to do a phone call home. I didn’t really do anything past that. She started to shake her leg a little bit. I could tell she was getting a little bit, you know, anxious with what was going on.
MAYNARD: And she wouldn’t tell me. She started to cry. I started to pull out my phone, she grabbed my phone away from me.
MAYNARD: She pushed it down, and I was like, okay, something bigger is going on, and she walked out of my office and walked out of the school. I mean it was a huge situation. Later I found out that she had the Department of Child Services involved in the home. She knew that her mom was trying to see, you know, what that next step would look like if she was staying in the home and move in with her aunt, and she knew a phone call home was going to be very harmful for her.
MAYNARD: I could have quickly done something with repairing the harm with saying, you know, hey, you know, I saw this is the third time you have your shirt untucked. I’ve been seeking you out. You know, I want you to come check in with me every, you know, two hours to show me your shirt’s tucked in. Just give me a high five so I know your shirt’s tucked in, something as simple as that with the repairing the harm. But I jumped to the punitive and I triggered that situation.
MAYNARD: Sort of just being mindful that, you know, we don’t jump to something like that. Also, you know you want to with repairing the harm you want to identify who the stakeholders are that has been affected. A stakeholder is anyone that’s a part of sort of that situation or was affected by that. So a lot of the times students don’t understand that a behavior is a ripple effect, like throwing a rock into a pond. It affects a lot of different people. We have to understand and show them what those ripples are and who those really are affecting, so when they’re repairing the harm we’re fixing with these stakeholders, they need to think of each stakeholder individually. That’s developing the empathy skills for each and every one of them.
MAYNARD: Now that you have sort of the stakeholders, you have to come up with the way to fix it with those stakeholders. So as many of them as possible. I like to tier it. So let’s say that, you know, I know this affected my classroom, I know that it affected me as an educator, I know this affected your parents and yourself. It’s the first time you’ve done this. Let’s just fix it with the classroom. Let’s just fix that with me. Sort of focusing on that.
GONZALEZ: Okay. Okay. So, so is all of this happening, that you’ve described so far, is this just in a private conference with the student? Is this happening immediately after the incident or later on?
MAYNARD: Yeah, definitely. So normally what I normally do is a private conference with the student. So I do a little mediation with them, just me and the student, just come up with what’s happening. If there’s other students involved, I like to do that separate before I bring them together.
MAYNARD: I, I find that that sort of lowers down that anxiety. So if I see a student that’s really triggered or really upset, I’m going to tell them what’s going to happen. I’m going to say, okay, well, I saw that you and this other student have had some words back and forth. I don’t want this to escalate more. Let’s talk about what’s going on. I’m going to seek to understand what’s going on in that situation with the other student, then I’m going to bring them both together and then come up with ways that we can repair the harm with how they harmed each other possibly before it turns into like an escalation situation.
GONZALEZ: Okay. Let me stop you for one second, because I’m, I’m thinking about some of my own situations with certain students, and sometimes you can’t get past the point of denial of, I didn’t do that. Or I didn’t do anything. So how do you get to the point where you’re talking about all this other stuff, if they’re still sort of denying that something even happened?
MAYNARD: Yeah, definitely. And I, I’ve had a lot of practice with that.
GONZALEZ: I think a lot of us have.
MAYNARD: Because kids are, kids are very, you know, immediately, it’s easier to say, like, oh that wasn’t me. I mean like even when I first started working, I was 21 years old, I saw a kid smack another kid in the head right in front of me, and I was like, did you do that? And he’s like, it wasn’t me. I remember thinking, am I crazy?
MAYNARD: Really, truly. I was like, there’s something going on. So, you know, my, my background, when I started, I was trained on something called motivational interviewing. That’s the way of sort of using open-ended questions, to form cognitive dissonance with students to really create this investment into, let’s deal with this now. We know that this situation happened. Take ownership. Let’s move forward. So I always tell the students, even when there’s a big situation, we got two choices. So I say, okay. I believe this was you, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Let’s deal with this situation now, fix it, move forward. Right now it’s just between me and you. If I find out later that it’s you, then there’s just going to be an additional situation. Why not just deal with it right now and then if there’s an additional situation, that’s showing that you’re dishonest, so now I have to deal with what happened and you being dishonest instead of just what happened. You make the choice. I always give kids time to process too. Because immediately if I say something like that, they’re still going to be oppositional.
MAYNARD: And they’re still going to be withheld. So I say that, and then I give them some time to process what’s going on, I back away, say okay, I’m going to give you a few minutes. I mean I even had a student one time that was one of our high fliers, like great kid. He cheated on a test. I had all the evidence stacked up against him, and he continued to say no it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me. Someone hacked my computer. I mean every, every excuse in the book. I said, okay. I’m going to give you, you know, 15 minutes. I’m going to bring you back to class. After class, I want you to come up to me and tell me what happened. You know, and that’s how we’re going to move forward. So I let him sort of process that situation.
MAYNARD: Unfortunately he still lied, but again, sometimes you have that, sometimes you don’t.
MAYNARD: But again, giving them that time really does help out.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, I would think also that that kind of helps for a lot of kids, anyway, it helps them sort of regain that sense of some control over the situation.
GONZALEZ: Because when things are moving so quickly, they, they don’t know what the right decision is to make, but they, they, so they just feel backed into a corner and that would sort of remove that anxiety.
MAYNARD: Exactly. Yeah.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you for answering that, because I know that, I’m just thinking, I didn’t do nothing, I didn’t do nothing, that, that same thing I hear over and over again, and it’s like, but I know what I just saw.
GONZALEZ: Or, you know, what can also happen is if you didn’t see it, and it’s one kid saying one thing and that’s just really tough to handle. So, so that was a, that sounds like an, an alternate, an alternative way of handling it anyway.
MAYNARD: Yeah, where we, getting them to that point where they can repair the harm.
MAYNARD: Because if they’re not embracing that and taking that responsibility, you’re not going to be able to get that restorative conversation.
GONZALEZ: When you are sort of naming all the stakeholders, do you ever involve the student in that process of helping you think of who else this has affected, or are you just telling them?
MAYNARD: Oh, yeah. So all of the time. So even with my 4-year-old son, you know when I, when he acts out in class or he has something small, because he’s got a lot of energy, I had a lot of energy as a son here as a child as well, so like you know when he’s out there in class and he’s doing something, I’m using open-ended questions to drive him to come up with who he’s affected. So I know who he’s affected, but I want him to come up with that.
GONZALEZ: Got it.
MAYNARD: And you could do that with any age of students. Sometimes kids, depending on sort of their processing level, let’s say that there’s, you know, other factors involved, I may help coach them a little bit. If it’s my very first conversation with the student too, I’m going to walk them through a little bit more what that looks like and say, okay, you know. When you throw something in a class, and let’s say that hits someone else, how do you think their mother would feel if I called them up and said, hey their son just got hurt in class? And I say something like that that’s going to drive the empathy and create that sense of, oh, that’s another stakeholder is that kid’s parent.
GONZALEZ: Right, right.
MAYNARD: After a while, they can start coming up with that themselves.
GONZALEZ: Okay. So, so once you have sort of worked to, to sort of clarify what the incident was, how it impacted people, who it impacted, then the next step is to actually have the student come up with a repair?
MAYNARD: Yes. So now that we have identified who the stakeholders are, who your action affected, we’re going to say, okay, what can we do moving forward to fix this? So we’re going to identify what the behavior was, who it affected, how it affected them, and what can we do moving forward. So let’s say that a student was, you know, yelling at the class or doing something in class. You know, that affects the rest of the class. What can you do to repair it with the rest of the class? You know, sometimes I’ve had students just go in front of the class and just apologize to the class.
MAYNARD: You know, something like that, embraces, owning that behavior shows the rest of the class that it’s not acceptable and sort of just moves forward.
GONZALEZ: You know, and it’s funny, because that sounds, I’m thinking about teachers being like, well that’s nothing compared to — if a kid throws something at another kid in class and we don’t suspend them, that’s not enough of a punishment. But I’m trying to rack my brain and think of anytime during my entire teaching career that a kid ever came back from a suspension and had to stand up in front of the class and actually apologize to them. That never happened. And that sort of socially is probably more difficult than just being out of school for a couple of days.
MAYNARD: Absolutely. I mean, and if you think about that too, think about and around all your peers, all of your friends and family, and going in front of them, like let’s say at Christmas dinner or something and saying like, hey, I’m sorry for what I did. I mean, that’s a lot more tough —
GONZALEZ: It’s big.
MAYNARD: — than sitting at home for three days.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Right, right. Okay. Does anything else happen after this or they’ve repaired and then, and then they’re reintegrated into society?
MAYNARD: Yeah, yeah. Society, the class, whatever they affected.
MAYNARD: A big component that I like to talk about and I like to teach people is there, there is this step where you want to keep that relationship strong. You just had that kid stand in front of the class, apologize to the class. They now have some anxiety. There’s that social, you know, structure around. Now I want to build that kid back up, but I want it to be real. So I’m not going to say, great job, John, you know, you did a great job apologizing to the class. I’m going to wait until after the class, I’m going to pull them aside like I did to address that behavior, I’m going to say, you did a great job. I know that’s tough, to stand in front of everyone and I heard, you know, Sam back there snickering and you didn’t say anything, but I’m really proud of you. Something like that builds that relationship back up to keep them as they feel whole again, because again, it’s this play where you want to keep that relationship as the core.
GONZALEZ: Right, right. So I’m imagining now teachers listening and maybe, maybe thinking, okay, this sounds like it’s doable, but maybe some listeners are having trouble imagining like what do some of these repairs actually look like? And like an apology definitely sounds like one that’s probably pretty common. Can you give us a couple of other examples of sort of, you know, maybe just some other repairs that you all have done with students where it can really help teachers listening to get an idea of what this looks like?
WEINSTEIN: Sure. Now when we’re looking at specific things that students can do, and a lot of teachers do get stumped at this point, it’s, it’s a lot more simple than we think, because it’s very logical and you have to pair it to what the student actually did.
WEINSTEIN: And what they found is that when students felt part of the process and Nathan mentioned before about having the students come up with the way to repair the harm, when students feel part of the process, and they think that, you know, and they felt like they were heard, they’re much more willing to accept what happens next. Like they feel like they’re more invested in fixing it and making it right. And sometimes when students refuse to repair the harm, that’s, that’s when you take away, you know, you can either fix it with me or I’m going to come up with what it looks like to repair the harm. So that, and when student [INAUDIBLE] kind of get a little bit, you know, insubordinate or a little more heightened up, then you say, okay. We got two options here. So an example that’s really good with repairing the harm that I have come across and I’ve actually done as a high school principal involves the cafeteria. So I, I want to put out there, sometimes sorry isn’t enough. Sorry is great. Sometimes there’s very empty apologies, and sometimes a student does something that more than a sorry is needed to repair that harm. So prime example, cafeteria. Student throws food across the cafeteria. You know, they, they pour their milk all over the floor and they walk away. They throw food at somebody else. They cause a big mess in the cafeteria for some reason. So if they cause a little mess in the cafeteria, you know, they just leave their trash and then they walk away. So that’s, you know, if we, if we let students do that, then that’s the norm, right? So if students can do that, your whole cafeteria is going to look extremely messy every day.
WEINSTEIN: But, if, when a student does that, and they have to repair the harm of that, it might be as simple as they have to clean up their entire table, and they have to wipe it down. So that’s something where a student does something just very minor. And they’ll probably come up with that themselves.
WEINSTEIN: And if they come up with something that doesn’t satisfy that, if they come up with that and just say, I’m sorry, you just say, I’m glad that you apologized, but, you know, I think we’re going to have to do something a little bit more, because you caused a mess.
WEINSTEIN: And when you cause, and then you start to have that conversation like Nathan said, you know, who, who are the stakeholders involved? They might realize that, you know, there is somebody that has to clean up after them, and they’re going to take away time from their job —
WEINSTEIN: — as, as, you know, as somebody who cleans the tables, I have to go home 20 minutes late now, because I’m cleaning your mess.
WEINSTEIN: So if they do something bigger, like they, they actually throw food across the room, they spill milk all over the floor, it might look like cleaning all of the tables, and it might look like mopping the floor, and they might be working with the custodian to help clean, because when they cause harm to the environment, which was the cafeteria, a good way to repair that harm is to make that environment clean.
WEINSTEIN: So that’s an example of a cafeteria. If I were to take that kid and put that kid in the office and just put him in detention for the rest of the day, or ISS for the rest of the day, that would teach that kid to not get caught next time instead of how — they wouldn’t have any understanding of who they hurt, why what they did was, you know, a bad thing, and how they can repair that harm.
WEINSTEIN: If they have to actually clean what they caused, they’re going to be a lot more likely next time to think about that before they do it, versus next time when I throw milk, I’m going to make sure no one’s looking.
WEINSTEIN: Because — so it doesn’t make sense. So the students are going to not, you’re not going to feel good about sitting at a lunch detention or sitting somewhere else, because they’re like, that doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t actually relate to what I did.
GONZALEZ: Right, right. Sometimes I think schools get a little bit hung up on this area because they think it’s more important to give the same punishment to all kids so that we can put it in our discipline policy and say, first offense this happens, second —
GONZALEZ: — and so that everybody can say it was fair across the board, but that doesn’t necessarily change anybody’s behavior.
WEINSTEIN: No. We need to treat people consistently inconsistent.
WEINSTEIN: And what I mean by that is that one student might really care, like Nathan mentioned, that you’re going to call home.
WEINSTEIN: Another student might not care at all.
WEINSTEIN: So why would I say I’m going to call home to a certain kid if you don’t do this or this, when they, when the certain kid’s like go ahead, make, go ahead, do it. Go ahead do it.
WEINSTEIN: But you know, so you have to know what the student values and what they care about, and you have to get deeper as to why they actually are doing that behavior in the first place.
WEINSTEIN: And another example, being tardy. And I know this is not something that really impacts many schools, right. Like, I know students all across the country are on time all the time.
WEINSTEIN: Especially in the high school and middle school level. So something like being tardy, it could be simply if a student came in two minutes late, they have to apologize the first time, because they might not realize who the stakeholders are. They might not realize that I am actually when I come in late, who I’m impacting is the class, because the whole class has to stare at me, everyone’s looking at them when the door opens, the teacher has to then restart what they did, the teacher has to come up to them and get them back on pace. They don’t think about all those things most of the time.
WEINSTEIN: Like, not everyone, you know, you’re not hardwired with empathy. You’re not hardwired with a lot of those skills on how you affect others. So being tardy the first time might be you have to apologize to the teacher, you know. If you continually be tardy, you know, if you came in two minutes late, you might have to stay two minutes after. So what’s going to happen is that when you take away my time, you’re going to have to make that time up is a very common thing you do with being tardy. But what’s more important than the tardiness is why are they tardy? So you can’t say, one tardy is this, two tardies is this, three tardies is this. One kid might be tardy because they have a boyfriend and girlfriend they have to see between classes. Another student might be tardy because they are disorganized and their locker is such a mess that they can’t actually find their stuff in between classes.
WEINSTEIN: Another, another, another reason for being tardy, you know, they might have to go to the bathroom in between periods, and they do not know how to plan their time, and another, another restorative consequence might be that I’m going to walk your schedule with you from this class to this class, and I’m going to show you how we can get there on time, because they might not actually have good strategies for how to manage their time in between. Because the class before, they might have been packing up their stuff after the bell. In other words, they’re not packing up on time.
WEINSTEIN: So when I identify why they’re being tardy, I can make a much better decision on what that logical consequence is and how I can have them repair that harm and actually give them a replacement strategy so that next time they’ll know better, and they can have a strategy for it.
GONZALEZ: Got it.
WEINSTEIN: So it’s really important to know why. Like, why did they do the actions they did? And that will be very beneficial when they came up with the way to repair the harm.
GONZALEZ: Got it.
WEINSTEIN: When we’re talking about a student causing harm to another student specifically, because you know the first two examples we’ve talked about, the student mainly impacted, not other students. They impacted just the teacher or just the custodian. But when a teacher, when the student does something to someone else, so for example we go outside at recess and another student is playing with a tennis ball and they throw it really hard off the wall, and then it bounces off and hits somebody in the face. They, they were not playing safely.
WEINSTEIN: They, they were not making sure everyone was good. So that student who got hit in the face, they’re crying, they’re upset, and they might become physical. Right? So when a student throws somebody to somebody else, if we just go back to class, and I took that student who threw something against the wall, and I’ve, and I’ve put them back into the room or I send them to the office, it’s not going to fix the fact that that one kid is angry at them.
WEINSTEIN: That, that’s a lot, that’s a big mistake that we make is that we punish the kid, we put that kid in detention, we call their mom. But when Johnny sees Susie tomorrow, Susie’s still mad because she got hit in the face, so there’s going to be continual problems with that.
WEINSTEIN: So instead of, you know, thinking the punishment took care of it, it didn’t it, because now there’s still this tension, there’s still this, you know, the, the things are not resolved with these two students.
WEINSTEIN: So when we talk, so I would sit those students down for a minute and say, hey, Susie, you know, when you got hit in the face, how did that make you feel? Like, what, what, why did this upset you? Because the other kid is more focused on the fact that Susie is a snitch or Susie’s a crybaby or I got put into, they called my mom, and he might be more mad at Susie than actually thinking about how I impacted Susie.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, right.
WEINSTEIN: So, so when we think about that, you know, Susie’s like, you know, I was just playing, I was just playing outside at recess, things were good. And all of a sudden I got hit in the face and for no reason, and that really upset me, and that hurt. So it’s kind of hard for this student at that time who threw the ball to kind of, they’ll be like, oh, you know, I didn’t actually think about it, and then, and then you might bring up, okay, well what if, what if Susie would have really gotten hurt? Like, what if it actually would have hit her in the eye and caused some type of damage to her eye? You know, how do you think her mom would feel?
WEINSTEIN: So the student’s like oh, this student also, like my, my classmate also has a parent.
WEINSTEIN: And I didn’t think about if they had to go to the doctor here’s what would happen, and how, how do you think I would feel if I had to call Susie’s parents and tell them what happened at recess? Then the student’s like, oh, well I guess it would have impacted you too as the principal or as the teacher, right? So then we say, okay, how do you think, how do you think you can repair this with Susie? Nine times out of 10 the student’s going to apologize. If I say to the student ahead of time, let’s just say I brought the two together and say, you know what? You need to apologize to Susie, and there was no conversation?
WEINSTEIN: That student’s going to be like, screw that. Susie’s just a crybaby. I, I didn’t do anything. You know, that’s ridiculous. But, when I say to the student after he hears what Susie he had to say, you know, what do you think you can do? And it’s the student’s idea? Nine times out of 10 they apologize. Or, so, it’s all, it’s all about getting the students to understand the other person’s perspective and giving them some control of how they’re going to fix it, and when students feel that they have some control, they’re way more likely to actually make things right.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Okay. I’m glad that you included that last example, because that is a, that’s a really, really common behavior issue that usually happens between two students and not just one student working alone. So when you have, you know, I’m, I’m assuming you worked with teachers for a number of years on, on trying to adopt these practices. What, what objections do they tend to have at first, and, and what is your response to those objections?
MAYNARD: So there’s two common ones. The first one is it, it takes time.
MAYNARD: It takes more time than what I, you know, what I have right now. You know, there’s all the different components of restorative practices. You know, there’s the circles in the classroom, which is the 80 percent you know proactive component. There’s that 20 percent reactive with those mediations, conferences.
MAYNARD: You know, we get a lot of, you know it takes time. One quote that we put in the book, you know, that we really like and a great author, Pam Leo, she said either we spend the time meeting children’s emotional needs by filling their cup, or we spend the time dealing with the behaviors by, caused by their unmet needs.
MAYNARD: Either way, we’re sort of spending that time. So you know, that, that quote really resonates with, you know, restorative practices as you know you’re going to spend the time either way.
MAYNARD: You know there’s an Edutopia article that just recently came out that says, classroom management takes about 144 minutes per week out of that lesson. So if you think about 144 minutes per week out of like that lesson, what can you do to sort of integrate this proactive approaches and meeting those kids’ needs.
MAYNARD: So that’s sort of how we address that. The second one is, you know, with, with punishment, it makes us feel better sometimes.
MAYNARD: You know, someone did something wrong, you know we want them to, to have a punishment is the initial sort of reaction. You know, they, they harmed me, I want there to be some sort of harm. We’ve heard someone say before, you know, you disrespected me, so now you need to suffer a little bit. You know? And, and that statement, outside of being something that we would never encourage, shows that they, they do want to show the students how to be empathetic and realize how they felt. Restorative practice is the way to do that, but it’s just less traumatic. It’s more sensitive. And it’s a way more effective way to open up that child’s eyes to how their behavior made us feel.
MAYNARD: And it actually changes that behavior.
GONZALEZ: So I am going to be, you know, over on the website I’m going to be giving people links to your book. Hopefully we can provide some sort of like an infographic or something sort of outline some of these major steps here. But if people want to learn more from you, where can they find you guys online?
WEINSTEIN: We are very big on Twitter and connecting with people who have read the book. So on Twitter you can follow me @weinsteinedu and Nathan’s Twitter is @nmaynardedu. We also have a Facebook group called Hacking School Discipline that is very active. You can also look, go to our website at hackingschooldiscipline.com. And if they’re interested in our behavior app, it is behaviorflip.com.
GONZALEZ: Great and we’ll, I’ll, I’ll put a link to that also over on my own website so that people can, can check out that app and I’m interested in it too because I have a tech guide that I put out every January, and we have a classroom management section and a behavior section, so I’m going to be checking it out myself too.
GONZALEZ: Yeah. Thank you guys so much for coming on and, and sharing this. I, I really hope that it changes some things in some schools.
MAYNARD: Yeah, well, thank you. We do too. Thanks for having us on.
For links to all the resources mentioned in this episode, including Nathan and Brad’s book, Hacking School Discipline, visit cultofpedagogy.com, click Podcast, and choose episode 134. To get a weekly email from me about my newest blog posts, podcast episodes, and products, sign up for my mailing list at cultofpedagogy.com/subscribe. Thanks so much for listening, and have a great day.