Responsible Thinking Process
THE RESPONSIBLE THINKING PROCESS (RTP) & RESTORATIVE PRACTICES (RP): SACSS’ BRAND OF DISCIPLINE
What is RTP?
Mr Edward Ford, a social worker based in Arizona, USA, developed RTP in 1994 to help children behave responsibly. He believes that to do so, children have to be taught how to think responsibly. RTP is designed to teach students to learn how to achieve their personal goals / needs without interfering with the goals of others.
RTP is based on a specific theory of human behaviour known as Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). PCT states that human beings are self-controlling rather than externally controlled. RTP believes that to address behaviour, one has to address the thinking. To do that, a teacher asks questions instead of telling the students what to do.
What is RP?
Restorative practices conference is a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific misbehaviour / offence, decide collectively on how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. The goal of RP is to create opportunities for victims, offenders and community members who want to meet to discuss the offence and the way forward. It is supported by Affect Theory (Tomkins, 1992) and Reintegrative Shaming Theory (Braithwaite, 1989).
The key technique of RP is dialoguing and conferencing. These processes provide the victims with opportunities to respond to the errant student, hence promoting healing, forgiveness, and reducing fears that might have crystallised between the victim and the offender. It also increases the errant student’s awareness of the impact of her action, hence proving her the opportunity to take responsibility for her action while engaging her support systems.
SACSS’ Brand of Discipline
With disruption (the act of interrupting the learning of others and/or the teacher; also, when they create a safety hazard for themselves or others) being one of the more infrequent discipline issues amongst our students, it has now become pertinent for SACSS to move from solely using the RTP, to imbuing the building blocks of RP, while still keeping the spirit of the RTP in our approach to discipline. All in all, our approach to discipline must be aligned with our school’s vision and mission to be a passionate learning community, to develop our students as women of integrity, and with our shared values of respect for all.
We believe in the 3Rs – Rules, Responsibility and Respect. The school institutes clear and fair rules. Every student is responsible for her own behaviour and is accountable for the choices she makes. When a student is referred to the discipline team, a variety of conferences will be conducted depending on the seriousness of the offence committed. They are: (a) individual conference (b) small group conference (c) whole class conference (d) community group conference. These are possible questions that can be used by the discipline team, for individual conferences:
- What were you thinking about when you …….?
- What have you thought about since it happened?
- Did you do the right thing or the wrong thing?
- Who has been affected by what you did, in what ways?
- How can you fix things up?
- What can I do to help you?
The discipline team will then facilitate the process in which the student develops a plan of how to prevent future incidences. When the plan is ready, the student will make an appointment to discuss her plan with the discipline team and/or the referring teacher. This process is important. At SACSS, we respect students and believe that they can develop thinking and social skills so as to prevent the recurrence of the incidents that have led to their referrals.
At SACSS, we believe that the student’s family is a valuable resource we can tap on. Our discipline team regularly invites parents to Student Support Meetings convened to discuss how we can collaboratively enhance the learning experiences and development of our students.