Restorative Discipline: Peacemakers in Training
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9
At one time or another, we have all sat in a classroom and wondered, “Why do I need to know this?” And while the names of cloud formations or Civil War generals may not follow you past your time in school, some skills learned as a student are absolutely necessary for the adult you become. Among these essential student skills is conflict resolution. There are many times during the course of a school year, both in the classroom and out of it, that find students in conflict with each other. Our policy at Windsor Christian Academy follows the procedures that Jesus gave us to solve problems with others:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:15-18)
Although this exact process, with follow-through to the level of church leadership, is not applicable to conflict within our school, we learn at least two important things that allow us to use this scripture as a guide:
The goal of discipline is true resolution: we hope to “gain a brother,” not win a fight, make a point, or spread gossip through the process.
Start small: begin with a one-on-one conversation between the parties immediately involved. Only involve others as necessary, taking the issue to the next level of authority only if it cannot be resolved.
Using this Scripture as our guide, the process for resolving conflict among students at Windsor looks like this:
A student should kindly and discreetly ask another student to stop the problematic behavior.
Ask for help
If the problem continues, a student asks a teacher or another adult to talk with both students in order to establish the circumstances of the situation. The misbehaving student will be warned of appropriate consequences if the same behavior continues.
Take it to the principal
If the student has had consequences and the behavior has not changed, the students will visit the principal, and he will decide on a course of action. The parents of all the students involved will be notified. If the situation continues, the principal and teacher will meet with parents and a behavior plan will be put in place.
At each step, the goal is to restore the broken relationship for the good of all students involved. We want our students to respect others and treat them with love, patience, gentleness, and self-control. Likewise, we want students who have been hurt by others to speak up in love and advocate for themselves. As the Scripture says, when this process works out, you have gained a brother.