This week, Steward is kicking off faculty and staff training for a new initiative called “Restorative Practices for Education.”
The School is implementing Restorative Practices in order to strengthen relationships between individual students as well as social connections within the student body. An expected outcome is that our community will be bolstered through the shared experience and built trust.
“Building and re-building community is one of our most important goals this year,” said Head of School Dan Frank. “The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have frayed some of our connections and impacted the way we interact. Restorative practices will promote pro-social engagement. It will ultimately have a positive influence on the way we connect every day, creating more empathetic exchanges everywhere from the playground to the classroom to disciplinary situations.”
On October 19, trainers from the International Institute for Restorative Practices will visit Steward to work with a group of faculty and staff. Further training events will take place throughout this school year, culminating in a schoolwide launch of the program in Fall 2022, although teachers will likely begin to implement some practices as they are trained this year.
The program teaches both individual skills to use every day, such as active listening and conflict resolution, as well as specific actions like faculty-facilitated listening circles and conferences. At Steward, it will also highlight the principles of the honor code, including honesty and integrity. Thus using these concepts we will be able to address the everyday feel of the culture and environment as well as impact how we understand and implement our Honor Code.
Tiffany Goodman, the diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator, led bringing the program to Steward, with support from Mr. Frank and the three academic division directors, in response to input from parent and student surveys. This program is part of the work of the Center for Engagement.
“Our goal is to create a sense of belonging for everyone,” Ms. Goodman explained. “When students are able to both process their own feelings and respond empathetically to their peers, then everyone feels both seen and heard. This creates an environment where our students can thrive socially, and it helps minimize distractions that can impact them in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities.”
Mr. Frank closed by sharing: “I’m so glad we’re members of a school community where we’re not emphasizing division and polarity; instead we are working to come together and understand each other through the design and use of classroom norms, guided conversations such as these, and increased character education and wellness programming.”