At the preschool level, the HighScope curriculum promotes development of pro-social behaviors and skills, focusing on key areas of social learning that build children’s competence and self-awareness and help them begin to understand how to regulate their behavior and responses.
In elementary schools, the Responsive Classroom program focuses on students’ social-emotional learning, recognizing that children’s development of social skills and maturation in the classroom is as important as their development of academic skills, and that discipline is learned behavior that needs to be taught in the classroom.
In Albemarle County and Charlottesville City Schools’ middle and high schools, Restorative Practices are integrated into the classrooms, giving students the opportunity to learn the effects of their actions through carefully orchestrated circles, conversations, and conferences. These practices contribute to students’ social and emotional development by teaching them valuable skills in building and repairing relationships with their classmates, teachers, family, and community. Restorative Practices keep students in school, learning, rather than removing them for suspension or expulsion, and they provide a process for inviting those students who are sent to an alternative school back into their home school in a way that strengthens both them and the larger community.
Mental health counselors in the middle and high schools work with students who have been disciplined for classroom behavior and students who report difficulty with peers or teachers. These counselors have been trained to use Motivational Interviewing, a counseling method that focuses on positive reinforcement and students’ self-motivation as strategies for changing problem behavior.
At Albemarle County and Charlottesville City Schools Alternate Education Sites, mental health therapists funded by SS/HS are available for students. These sites also use Restorative Practices, which have been incorporated into the students’ re-entry process when they return to their home schools. This gives re-entering students the opportunity to address any harm they may have caused others and to restore teacher-student, student-administration, and student-student relationships.
These schoolwide positive discipline practices are beginning to show concrete results, including a 23% decline in physical fights on school property and a 15% decrease in school discipline offenses for students in grades 6–12 since the beginning of SS/HS implementation.