SFUSD has programs to help students feel safe at school

Have you ever felt judged? Have you ever felt physically threatened? Have you ever been teased? We don't want any of our children to experience these things ever, not at school, not anywhere. But we know they do sometimes and for the San Francisco Unified School District, we know it is our job to teach children how to get along and what to do when they feel mistreated.

Cultivating relationships

How are we doing it? One thing we've done is shift how we approach discipline in general. We emphasize the importance of positive relationships in building school community, and work to strengthen individual and community relationships by repairing harm when conflict and misbehavior happens. It's called restorative practices.

What that means is, when a student does something in a way that harms someone else, we ask that student some very specific questions, starting with, “What happened, and what were you thinking at the time?” We also ask the student to talk about what has been hard for him or her in this situation, and require the student to come up with ways to make things right. It's not a simple process, but it teaches our young people to think about what's really going on inside them, describe their role in the problem and find ways to repair the relationship.

Learning to be a better neighbor

There's another way students are learning to get along and solve problems together. Through the program Second Step, we are teaching social emotional learning, which are skills that ensure students are good neighbors, citizens, employees or managers. In short, team players.

These really are teachable skills. We all can learn them. For children it's crucial to learn at home and at school. I spend a lot of time talking to San Francisco employers these days, and they tell me they of course need smart employees, but they're looking for team players.

To the BAT Team!

When students don't feel safe and cared for, they won't be able to learn in school. And disruptive behavior at school not only makes others feel unsafe, but as importantly, kids who get suspended for misbehavior miss valuable school time and don't usually change their behavior when they return to school.

So we organized our Student, Family and Community Support staff and created Behavioral Action Teams for all schools to help them as they began to use new, more effective ways of helping students who are struggling to get along with their peers and staff.

It's all under the umbrella of something important we call Behavioral Response to Intervention, which is an academic way of saying we will pay closer attention to problems students are having before they become big.

Is it working?

We're seeing results. In some of our student groups, suspensions dropped 50 percent last school year. All our students are gaining useful tools for getting along, using those tools, and making things better. As a result, more kids feel safe at school and get to stay in school.

Richard A. Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

disciplineFeaturesmisbehaviorSan Francisco Unified School DistrictThe City

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read