Do No Harm When it comes to the concept of Do No Harm, I believe it is a simple way of explaining schoolwide behavior expectations. It summaries the common positive behavior intervention supports expectations to Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. Additionally, it supports the rules outlined in California's Education Code. It is essential to establish Do No Harm as an expectation for all members of a school community, including the adults. In coordination with a restorative practices program, Do No Harm can help build a learning community focused on developing academic and character skills.
Discipline Policies and Practices
In my sphere of influence as a future school leader, my belief that all students have the desire and capability to learn and behave will be reflected in my discipline policies and practices. I believe that traditional discipline issues arise from students and adults’ weaknesses inability to work together in a positive manner. As a school leader, I would develop policies that focus on building structures to support restorative practices through a lens of population-specific needs, such as trauma informed practices.
Program Policies and Initiatives
I would work to examine the school’s current behavior plan and the community’s beliefs about behavior and discipline. Then, I would determine whether it is completely appropriate to replace or simply supplement current policies with ones that support restorative practices. However, I would ensure that this was done as a gradual progression to allow time for teacher, staff, and stakeholder buy-in and understanding.
Professional Development as a Community of Learners
Before pushing teachers and school staff to implement a Do No Harm initiative, I would focus on fostering an appreciation of restorative practices. During professional development, I would set a clear expectation that adults are as responsible as students to Do No Harm and repair any harm they cause. I would work to establish a team of restorative practice leaders at the school site and with their help I would prepare teachers to use affirmative statements, affirmative conversations, and circles to create a community that supports the learning of behaviors.
Do No Harm in My School
Approximately five years ago, I participated in my school’s Building Effective Schools Together Committee, which worked with Jeff Sprague with the University of Oregon's Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior to build and support the implementation of a schoolwide behavior plan based on positive behavior intervention supports. Working with stakeholders, we established schoolwide and classroom behavior expectations, corrective consequences, and rewards. We were simultaneously trained in trauma informed care by our partner agency. Within two years, we had strong data to validate the effectiveness of our efforts. However, due to lack of maintenance and support, our system has deteriorated to almost simply words in our student handbook. The concept of Do No Harm is inexplicably addressed by our school wide expectations to Be Safe, Be Respectful and Be Responsible, but they are not consistently supported--even through just simple corrective consequences and rewards. Last spring, our staff began restorative practice training, but we, adults, are still working at the participant level. We have only been trained to host relationship building talking circles with our students.
Sit with Me
My school’s current lack of Do No Harm culture is of great concern to me. In fact, it is one of the reasons I began this program. Due our students’ history of abuse and resulting trauma, they need and deserve to be taught behavior in a supportive--rather than punitive or permissive--environment. Currently, we are struggling to simply get the teachers to behave in a way that Does No Harm. Fortunately, my principal is working with a team of restorative practice leaders from the county office to implement a Do No Harm culture.
I will continue to: