High school students to educators on Saturday: Focus on emotional intelligence, relationships

YES Prep Public Schools

High school students to educators on Saturday:
To curb disruptive behavior and boost student engagement, break away from traditional disciplinary approach and focus on emotional intelligence, relationships

As educators from across Houston converge for a conference to address discipline, students from YES Prep’s Northbrook High School will urge them to break away from traditional approaches and focus on building emotional intelligence and relationships. Building the emotional intelligence of students and teachers and staff will help those in schools make better decisions to manage their own behavior and improve how they interact with one another, students will tell educators.
Whether name-calling or apathy in the classroom, misbehavior stops the learning process and is a major source of teacher burnout and student disengagement. From identifying and understanding the root cause of disruptive behaviors to consequences directly related to infractions, students will describe their Restorative Justice strategies to help create a positive school experience in a climate conducive to learning.
Educators at YES Prep are breaking away from traditional approaches to student discipline and creating a culture of relationships to improve student engagement. At YES Prep’s Northbrook High School, groups of students host 20-minute discussions twice a week where they share experiences and ideas on current events, school and family affairs, etc., as they feel comfortable.
“When we first started, I was a skeptic. ‘Why do I have to share with people who I don’t know or get along with?’ It’s scary. Feelings are a hard topic to talk about. Many of us come from families where you don’t talk about your feelings,” one student said. “After a couple circles, I realized I needed to open up with other people and get to know, be close with others. It’s changed all of us.”
One student will share how in 8th grade she had gotten so behind on coursework and was so discouraged, she was at the verge of dropping out. That was until she arrived at YES Prep’s Northbrook High School and her “passion for school was revived.”
“In these circles, we become closer with kids we may not’ve talked to otherwise. When we hear their stories, when you’re vulnerable together, you can see what people really face and how strong they are,” another student said. “You can see how others, your teachers but also your peers, really do care about you. And that gives us real pride in our school.”
These students will be among those from YES Prep’s Northbrook High School in Spring Branch Independent School District who will present at the Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston conference to show how Restorative Justices practices have transformed their school experience.
The students will conduct the presentations on Saturday, April 29 from 12:20 – 1:30 p.m. and from 1:40 - 2:45 p.m. at YES Prep North Central, 13703 Aldine-Westfield, Houston, TX, 77039.  Educators from school districts across the Houston area, including YES Prep Public Schools, KIPP, Spring Branch, Alief, Katy, Humble, Fort Bend and Houston independent school districts are registered for the conference. 
The conference hosted by the Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston (RJCH) will run from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. and is open to registrants online at https://bit.ly/RJCH2017 and onsite at YES Prep North Central. The Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston (RJCH) is a diverse coalition of educators, students, researchers, academics, parents, clinicians, lawyers, advocates, and detention officers who are committed to breaking the school to prison pipeline through creative, community driven models of restorative justice. RJCJ members seek solutions that will strengthen communities, keep people accountable for their actions, and reintegrate those who have harmed society. The organization provides resource sharing and opportunities meet like-minded people who want to implement restorative practices.