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

Chase Center and the Golden State Warriors hosted a media Welcome Back conference to discuss the safety protocols and amenities when fans return for a basketball game on April 23rd at Chase Center on April 13, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Golden State Warriors ready to welcome fans back to Chase Center

COVID-19 tests, app-based food ordering among new safety protocols announced this week

People came out in numbers to memorialize George Floyd, who was fatally shot by police, outside San Francisco City Hall on June 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD prepares for possible protests as Chauvin trial continues

Police to schedule community meetings, provide officers with crowd control training

Mayor London Breed said Tuesday that with other counties moving ahead with expanding vaccine eligibility “we want San Franciscans to have the same opportunity.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Everyone in SF ages 16 and up is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

San Francisco expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to everyone ages… Continue reading

San Francisco Park Rangers have seen their budget and staffing levels increase significantly since 2014. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Citations for being in SF’s public parks after midnight soar

Data shows disproportionate impact on Black residents

Central City SRO Collective tenant leader Reggie Reed, left, and Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense, were among those distributing environmental awareness posters throughout the Tenderloin, Mid-Market and South of Market neighborhoods. (Courtesy Central City SRO Collaborative)
Environmental dangers are connected to racism

Let’s attack problems with better policies, greater awareness

Most Read