Are you looking for an effective alternative to outdated, exclusionary school discipline practices? Or maybe your school is already using PBIS, but you believe that external rewards aren’t enough to address the underlying issues that cause behavior problems?
If so, we highly recommend the exceptional book by Nathan Maynard and Brad Weinstein, Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy & Responsibility Using Restorative Justice.
Nathan and Brad have spent their careers finding creative, compassionate approaches to improving student behavior. And in Hacking School Discipline, they offer tools for understanding root causes of behavior issues and practical approaches for addressing these problems using Restorative Justice.
These student-centered restorative practices are explained in detail over nine chapters or hacks:
- Let’s Talk: Create a culture of communication to resolve conflict
- Circle Up: Deal with the issue immediately and where it happens
- Repair the Harm: Teach students to take direct responsibility for their actions
- Throw out the Rules: Create clear and consistent expectations
- Create a Growth Mindset: Put students back in the driver’s seat
- Teach Mindfulness: Empower students to recognize and manage their emotions
- Cultivate Empathy: Build the capacity to listen, understand, and communicate
- Build Restorative Support: Focus on the small things
- Create a Snapshot: Use data to track behaviors, coach students, and address recidivism
The fundamental thread that runs throughout the book is that students themselves MUST be part of the solution and have agency. “Students must be heard and understood!”
If you are an educator with a million things on your plate, this book isn’t an all-or-nothing approach. Each of the nine sections provides practical advice for “what you can do tomorrow” and real world anecdotes to help you get started. So you can pick and choose based on your school and your situation. And as you see these approaches working on a small scale, the book also provides additional details for broader implementation and how to address common concerns that will be raised by other administrators and educators.
And if you find the the book helpful, you might also enjoy Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Dr. Ross Greene.
In addition, Brad graciously added his insights and advice for several articles published here on our website: