I’m fortunate to have a very unique lens when it comes to education. As a student, I spent all but 2 ½ years of my K-12 education in private schools. In my first decade as an educator, I spent all of my years in Title I schools or supporting teachers who instructed students with special needs. So when it comes to the debate of public, private or charter, my answer is always “it depends”. Public education has unfairly been given a bad rap. Now, this is partially it’s own doing because the United States public education system is suffering from the Walmart Effect.
There is a huge misconception that some kids’ parents are at home teaching them how to walk in a straight line and properly raise their hands while other parents are at home teaching the exact opposite. The truth is that none of our students come to school knowing how to walk in a line, raise their hands to be recognized, or conform with any other traditional school procedures.
On October 13, 2015, I officially started my journey with Restorative Practices. This day was the first day of a two-day Restorative Discipline Readiness Training for Administrators. Fifteen minutes into the training, I knew I was bringing Restorative Practices to my campus. The reason I say it was my official start is because I was not fully sold on Restorative Practices until this day. When I first learned I would be the assistant principal over that summer, I met with the Director of Student Services. I wanted to know his vision about how we should discipline kids. During our meeting, he told me about Restorative Discipline and Boys Town. At that time, Boys Town seemed to make more sense. But I continued to do my research on Restorative Practices. The more I learned, the more it seemed to be the best fit for my campus.
One of my favorite educational documentaries, mostly because I love the title, is “Waiting for Superman”. The title alone pretty much sums up a large part of why our education system is struggling to keep pace with the needs of 21st Century learners. I personally blame Hollywood for this. All movies about education showcase how one person turned around an entire school by themselves or beat immeasurable odds to save a group of challenging students. Very similar to how Superman just flies in and saves the day.