School to Prison Pipeline

Even with one kid throwing a chair and another kid snarling, “Don’t touch me”, today was a great ending to a pretty decent first week of school. What a difference my experience has been from the train wreck of last year! My inner monologue has been, “Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse” no matter how ridiculously irritating the behavior. It’s my personal mission to disrupt the “school to prison pipeline” (the disproportionate number of black boys who receive suspensions compared to white boys committing the same offense, thereby setting them on a predictable path to a life of incarceration) by implementing restorative rather than punitive measures in response to negative behavior.
Instead of writing up a referral for the kid who threw the chair, I talked with him about his frustration and alternate methods of dealing with it. I shared with him my own young daughter’s anger/emotion regulation issues and some of the strategies we’ve utilized.
Upon our return to the classroom ( from the hallway), he immediately engaged in his writing assessment and remained on task for the duration of the class. At one point, I jotted a message to him on a sticky note: Good job staying focused smile emoticon
At the day’s end, I happened to catch a glimpse of him flying down the stairs, the yellow sticky note waving proudly from the front of his shirt.