Prior to implementing Restorative Practices, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), or any other school-wide behavioral support system, districts, buildings and teachers in traditional school systems may benefit from developing ongoing opportunities for leaders (especially!) and staff to reflect on, and challenge, systemic racism and implicit bias; and learn about how trauma impacts the brain and behavior.
Without these transformational elements as our foundation, we are failing to get at the root causes of disproportionality in discipline.
We must be willing to put the brakes on moving forward with PBIS and Restorative Practices implementation in schools, and recognize the importance of transforming our foundations and our soil. School staff need to understand what is happening inside a student's brains when they act out, so that they can more effectively respond in a way that allows the child to develop new neural pathways (and new ways of responding to stress). We need to engage in conversations with our professional colleagues about our own implicit bias and prejudices, as well as learn about the prevalence and impact of daily exposure to microaggressions that our students are exposed to. We must support one another through that work.
We cannot rush this process and we cannot "fix" disproportionality in school discipline without talking about bias, racism, oppression, privilege, and trauma.
Take your time. Find the mess. Stay there for a while.
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Tammy Dee, MSW.