Strategy 1: Speaking the Language of the Virtues
This strategy uses the language of virtues to acknowledge, guide and correct student behavior while improving teacher communication with students, each other and families. It emphasizes the need to speak to all individuals consistent with the belief that everyone is worthy of respect. It is not just encouragement or praise, rather names the virtue or character quality and the evidence where it is demonstrated and or needed. The behavior and the virtue are linked, whether it serves to acknowledge or thank, guide or to correct. The more a virtue is authentically acknowledged, the stronger it is developed and internalized in students, thus becoming a transferable skill.
Strategy 2: Recognizing Teachable Moments
Teachable moments do not occur only when there has been a negative behavior. This strategy helps students and teachers build resiliency and self-awareness by articulating positive behavior, connecting it to a virtue or character trait and is able to correct negative behavior by using the first strategy of speaking the language of the virtues. This approach replaces shaming and blaming by naming a virtue that needs to be called on to clear up a mistake. This strategy is helpful to educators and parents from escalating situations that arise from challenging behaviors. This is not just for students. Administrators, staff members and parents can learn to give feedback that demonstrates appreciation for the person while guiding them to grow a needed virtue.
Strategy 3: Setting Clear Boundaries Based on Restorative Justice / Practices
With respect as the foundation of our relationships, when instances of disrespect occur they are seen as opportunities, as teachable moments. Creating the “rules” in our family or in the school/classroom based on virtues and then using four steps of restorative justice helps to build relationships and restores the offender of the community in an educative manner versus a punitive or shaming manner. With practice in asking “what” and “how” questions in a non-judgmental fashion students learn to take responsibility, make restitution, resulting in reconciliation, which restores relationships. Both students and adults can resolve conflicts in this powerful manner, learning from their choices and while not carrying the burden of shame.
Strategy 4: Honoring the Spirit
Honoring the spirit inspires group unity, respect and trust. It is at the heart of being trauma and culturally responsive. Honoring the spirit can be done in many ways including circles where students are encouraged to share personal stories, celebrate life events, traditions, the arts, nature, service learning and general reflection. This is all in line with the recognition encouraged of the dignity and worth of every individual in the community and allows them the opportunity to share their unique gifts and contribution to the group.
Strategy 5: Companioning
A unique combination of counseling, coaching, and active listening to help find clarity and develop solutions to a problem they may have or have caused. All of the staff and parents can learn to listen and empower others in this manner without needing to give advice. It is a recognition that each of us are whole and have full potential in finding the virtues we have shown, need to grow, or forgot to show. Companioning can be used by all staff and even students instead of automatic referral to the office of the principal or counselor.