Positive discipline approaches help students learn—and practice—social and emotional skills, develop healthy relationships with peers and adults, and resolve disagreements in socially acceptable ways.
Although exclusionary discipline plays an important role in maintaining school safety, we now know suspending or expelling students for nonviolent behaviors (such as truancy, failure to follow directions, or disrespect) removes them from important learning opportunities.
When a school community creates a welcoming, emotionally supportive learning environment, everyone wins.
Students will develop a sense of belonging, which will help them learn important social and emotional skills and achieve academic success. Educators will strengthen their relationships with all students and have fewer discipline problems in their classrooms. Both teachers and students will experience less stress and greater satisfaction with their school.
To make this vision a reality, school and district leaders should offer teachers professional learning opportunities related to using culturally responsive practices, creating emotionally supportive classrooms, and using trauma-informed practices.
Shifting discipline practices to focus on teaching may require changing both policies and practices. A new training series from REL Northwest can help schools and districts do that.
The series provides resources to help school and district teams use data to identify areas of concern related to the overuse of exclusionary discipline or disproportionality in assigning discipline to student groups, such as students of color or students with disabilities.
The series also helps teams use evidence to identify interventions, develop an action plan, track their effectiveness, and inform improvement decisions. It is meant to complement—not compete with—current school discipline practices and social and emotional learning approaches.
Specifically, the training series provides resources to help school and district teams take the following steps to improve their school discipline policies and practices: