We are thrilled to announce that Morningside Center has been selected to receive a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant of $3 million. Our proposal for a “Whole School Restorative Practices Project” was one of 15 selected among the 385 proposals received by the federal Department of Education.
Blog Posts by Laura McClure
- A kindergartner in Tennessee who is Latino was told by classmates that he would be deported and trapped behind a wall. Now he asks his teacher every day, “Is the wall here yet?”
This piece originally appeared in Education Week.
A few weeks ago the New York Times ran a story I found so disturbing that I had to use some of the cool-down strategies from my organization's "social and emotional learning" curricula before I could think clearly about it. (My organization, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, works with public schools to foster SEL.)
Suspensions in NYC public schools dropped 17% in the 2014-15 school year, according to the latest Department of Education data. This continues the trend of the past four years, which has seen NYC suspensions drop 36% overall.
What’s the best way to help young people learn social and emotional skills they can use for the rest of their lives? What’s the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs like ours on students, teachers, and the classroom climate? Morningside Center has been asking these questions and working with researchers to answer them for going on three decades. Our joint quest for understanding has so far resulted in two major scientific studies that have helped us build our SEL programs – and contributed to the growing SEL field.
The questions continue – and so does the research.
Being teased is not something most kids want to talk about. But last spring, a girl from PS 24 in Brooklyn did a brave thing: As part of one of our “diversity panels” at the school, she traveled to Brooklyn’s PS 130 to share her story of being teased.
She told a class full of students about how she had been teased because she was overweight and because she had lived in a homeless shelter. She’d also been teased because she had a learning disability. But then she told the class about one boy at PS 24 who did not tease her: “Instead of laughing at me about how bad my math was, he helped me,” she said. And then she offered some advice to the PS 130 students: “Be patient with kids with learning challenges. Be like that boy was to me.”
Suspensions have "dropped significantly" at Manhattan's Landmark High School, according to principal Caron Pinkus. And there are fewer fights at the school. She credits the restorative practices her school has been implementing through Morningside Center’s Restore360 Program.
Pinkus explains: “When kids have been doing circle all year, they feel part of a community, and they don’t want to disrespect that community by fighting. So there are fewer fights.” What’s more, "the staff is not as quick to suspend, even when something does happen. We’re a lot more conscious about the impact of doing that – and we have other approaches to try.”
We wanted to know: Is Landmark's experience the exception or the rule? Does Restore360 really succeed in reducing suspensions? It's an important question not just for us, but for school districts across the country that are looking for positive alternatives to punitive discipline policies.
So we delved into the NYC Department of Education's suspension data to find the answer.
On July 15, a varied group of educators came together for a Morningside Center workshop aimed at helping “strengthen and sustain our intention to act for climate justice.” Brooklyn biology teacher Michael Sweringen called the gathering “the start of an excellent adventure.”
“How do we ensure that schools are warm, welcoming, fair, and effective in the treatment of all students?”
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