As part of our work with Mark Finnis developing Restorative Practice he shared the Social Discipline window. The underlying premise of Restorative Practice rests with the belief that people will make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them rather than to them or for them.
“Human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.” John Braithwaite
Although the key focus of our work with the Social Discipline window has been linked to behaviour it has permeated almost every conversation that I have had in recent months. Not surprisingly really as I believe great schools are underpinned by high challenge and high support, underpinned by effective relationships.
So if it’s so effective why isn’t it our default?
School’s are busy places full of human beings! No two days or situations are the same and the number of decisions that staff is made on a daily basis is enormous! Add to this the external pressures around accountability and it becomes more apparent why we may default into doing ‘to’ or ‘for’ – it tends to be quicker and easier in the short term. But when we default to doing ‘to’ or ‘for’ changes of behaviour are likely to be short lived, if they occur at all.
It was wonderful to be back in a primary school this week, thank you Athersley North! I had a quick visit to the foundation stage and was struck by the independent learning of the 3 and 4 year olds in the setting. As the Headteacher showed me round she talked about the importance of developing independence, for example not putting coats and shoes on for these young learners, but doing it with them so they gained the skills themselves.
So whether it’s engaging in feedback with learners, supporting restorative conversations, supporting parents, working alongside school leaders are helping 3 years olds to put their coats on the more we work with the more effective we will be.