Analyzing Classroom and School Structures with the Social Discipline Window

Teachers and school leaders can use the social discipline window as a tool to determine how often they are restorative or punitive
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About This Strategy

This strategy provides a tool for teachers and school leaders to analyze current practices through a restorative lens. Traditional systems in schools often work from a punitive or permissive stance, which does not provide students with the structure and/or the supports needed to fully engage in the development of social and emotional skills that lead to success in adulthood. By analyzing current systems and consequences, teachers and leaders can adjust their practices to ensure that they are working in partnership with students throughout the day.

Implementation Steps

  1. Read the resource from the International Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP) in the resource section below to learn about the social discipline window, a tool used to define restorative practices within a continuum of support and structure.  As you read, think about the following questions and record your reflections in the analysis template to refer to later: 

    • In my classroom/school, do I typically provide many or few limits for students and/or teachers?  Give specific examples.

    • For procedures/routines that are highly structured, why is the structure necessary for student success?

    • For procedures/routines that are not highly structured, are additional supports needed for students to be successful?

    • In my classroom/school, do I typically provide high or low levels of support for teachers and/or students?  Why?

    • Who receives the most support?

    • Who receives the least support?

  2. Consider this alternative model of the social discipline window in the resource section below, which reimagines the social discipline window from the perspective of the students and/or teachers who are a part of the environment.  As you read, think about the following questions and record your reflections in the analysis template to refer to later:

    • Which brain state best supports learning and grappling with rigorous content? Why?

    • What are some student actions/behaviors that might outwardly show which brain state students are in?

  3. Choose a class for data collection. Teachers might choose a class that is generally successful if they would like to build out strategies for other struggling classes. They might choose a struggling class if they would like to reflect deeply on how teacher actions might be affecting students' reactions.

  4. Throughout a class period, use a coding system to mark evidence of how students' behaviors are indicating their brain states.  Use the behaviors brainstormed in Step 3 as evidence of students' brain states.  Teachers might ask a coach or trusted colleague to collect the data for them.  

    • Observers might using a color-coding system to make tallies on a seating chart for evidence of each brain state.  

    • Observers might use a 4-quadrant sheet and mark students' initials on the appropriate quadrant to indicate their brain state.

  5. Identify 1-3 students to prioritize for action planning.

    • Consider choosing students who are indicating that they are not in a brain state of relaxed alertness.

    • Keep the planning group small to keep action planning manageable.

    • What is this group of students missing?  Supports or limits?

    • How can the teacher build in additional supports or limits for these students to assist them in reaching a brain state of relaxed alertness?

  6. After brainstorming a list of supports and/or limits for these students, choose one to try consistently each day for at least a week.

  7. After implementing the supports/limits, repeat the observation process to determine if the students' behaviors indicate a change in brain state.

  8. Repeat the reflection process.