Consistent with the school’s mission, the Office of Student Engagement at Gompers Preparatory Academy supports students intellectual, personal, and social development. The Office of Student Engagement reflects and promotes the GPA culture where students can thrive academically as well as socially. As members of the GPA community students are expected to:
- Commit to the safety, security and health of others
- Respect diversity
- Maintain an atmosphere that encourages academic achievement
- Be responsible stewards of their online and campus presence
- Commit to honesty and personal integrity
- Form positive relationships and work as a team to uphold GPA school culture
The Office of Student Engagement provides leadership and support for the student conduct process through coordinating, training, and advising. The Office of Student Engagement receives and processes student conduct complaints while offering consulting and advising to staff and parents regarding potential (and/or actual) student conduct incidents.
The Office of Student Engagement meets with students to resolve student conduct incidents. The Office of Student Engagement is available to answer questions about the student conduct process.
The Office of Student Engagement utilizes a multi-tiered system of supports, which includes restorative justice practices, trauma-informed practices, social and emotional learning, and school-wide positive behavior interventions and support to help our students gain critical social and emotional skills and receive support to help transform trauma-related responses, understand the impact of their actions, and develop meaningful methods for repairing any harm done to others or the school community.
“Restorative Justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” –Howard Zehr, 1990
The following principles reflect the values and concepts for implementing Restorative Justice practices in the school setting:
- Acknowledge that relationships are essential to building a successful school community.
- Ensure equity of voice amongst all members of the community. Everyone is valued, everyone is heard.
- Sets high expectations while offering supports, emphasizing doing things “with,” not “to” or “for.”
- Build systems that address student misconduct and harm in a way that strengthens relationships and focuses on the harm done rather than only rule-breaking.
Restorative Justice emphasizes community building and commits to restoring relationships. Restorative practices promote and strengthen positive school culture. Moreover, pro-social relationships also improve within the school community.
Why Restorative Justice in schools?
It provides families, schools, and communities a way to ensure accountability while at the same time breaking the cycle of retribution and violence. It is based on a view of resilience in children and youth and their capability to solve problems, as opposed to the youth themselves being the problems adults must fix. It focuses not on retribution but on reconnecting severed relationships and re-empowering individuals by holding them responsible. This approach acknowledges that, when a person does harm, it affects the persons they hurt, the community, and themselves. When using restorative practices, an attempt is made to repair the harm caused by one person to another and to the community so that everyone is moved toward healing.
- A restorative approach in school requires students to think about themselves and how they deal with one another, and to work on developing healthy relationships and learning how to manage conflict.
- When Restorative Justice practices are consistently applied within a school wide context, they improve school climate, promote community, and reduce student misconduct. They will also strengthen positive school culture and enhance pro-social relationships within the school community.
- The Restorative Justice model is a three-tiered model of prevention, intervention and reentry in response to conflict/harm.
- Restorative Justice practices work to lower suspension and expulsion rates and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices.
All students need Digital Citizenship skills to participate fully in their virtual classrooms. Digital Citizenship helps students make smart choices online and in life.
What is a digital footprint and why is it important to know about it?
Our digital world is permanent, and with each post, you are building a digital footprint. Self-reflecting before you self-reveal, will help you consider what you share online and how it can impact yourself and others. Awareness about one’s own digital footprint can also help to support digital literacy.
What to Know
In a world where anything created online can be copied, pasted, and sent to thousands of people in a heartbeat, privacy starts to mean something different than simply guarding personal information. On the positive side, this culture of sharing holds tremendous promise for people to express themselves, collaborate, and find support for their ideas and interests. However, the ease of online disclosure also poses risks for young people. A decision made in the spur of a moment — a funny picture, a certain post — can resurface years later. Something originally sent to a friend can be sent to a friend’s friend, and so on. That’s how secrets become headlines and how false information spreads fast and furiously – to classmates, teachers, college admissions officers, future employers, or the public at large.
Understanding Digital Footprints
A digital footprint is all of the information a person passively leaves and actively shares about themselves online, especially on social media sites. Text, images, multimedia, cookies, browsing histories, IP addresses, passwords, and even Internet service providers all make up a person’s digital footprint.
It’s especially important to note that you can’t assume anything is private online. Whether it’s the new phone number registered or the tweet you just wrote, it’s all available online.
Creating strong passwords, using privacy settings, and knowing what not to share on social media will start you on the right foot.
Teenagers: Tips for Good Behavior
1. Take time to actively listen
Actively listening means paying close attention to what your teen is saying and feeling, rather than thinking of what you want to say next. This shows your teen that you care and that you’re interested.
2. Set clear rules about behavior
Family rules make expectations about behavior clear. If you can, involve all family members in the discussions about rules. Try to keep the rules positive. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t be disrespectful,” you could say, “We speak to each other with respect.”
3. Broken rules: follow up calmly, firmly and consistently
You can do this by using a brief and fair consequence that you and your child have agreed on in advance. It helps if you link the consequence to the broken rule – for example, “Because you didn’t come home at the agreed time, you’ll need to stay home this weekend.” This also helps you communicate your expectations about future behavior.
You can read more about setting boundaries and using consequences in our article on discipline strategies for teenagers.
4. Encourage self-reflection
If you need to use a consequence, explain why you’re doing it. This gives your teen the chance to reflect on what she could change to stop the problem coming up again. For example, you could say something like, “Gemma, I get worried when you stay out late without telling me what you’re doing. Next time, I’ll pick you up at 10 pm. What could you do differently next time so you don’t get a consequence?”
Follow up by asking your child what a fair consequence would be if it happens again.
5. Try to be a positive role model
Children – even teenagers – do as you do, so being a being a role model for your child is a powerful and positive way to guide your child’s behaviour. For example, when your child sees you following the family rules yourself, he gets a powerful example.
6. Choose your battles
Before you get into conflict over your child’s behaviour, ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” and “Is this really worth fighting about?” Less negative feedback means fewer opportunities for conflict and bad feelings.
7. Take your teen seriously
Your child is an individual and she needs to know that she’s valued, accepted and respected for who she is. One way to do this is by taking her developing ideas and opinions seriously, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.
8. Give your child responsibility
Learning to handle responsibility is one of the biggest challenges of adolescence, and an important step towards becoming an adult. Giving your child responsibility in certain areas – like letting him choose his own clothes or hairstyle – can help increase autonomy and independence. It can also help you avoid battles over the little things.
9. Tackle problems in a positive way
Whether it’s an argument with your child or a disagreement with your partner, using positive problem-solving skills to sort things out helps to keep you calm. It also gives your child a great example to follow.
In this short video demonstration, you can see a dad using a problem-solving approach to sort out a conflict between two teenage siblings. (Download transcript PDF)
10. Praise your child
Descriptive praise and encouragement are powerful motivators. Teenagers might seem self-sufficient, but your child still wants and needs your approval. When you notice and comment on your child’s responsible choices and positive behavior, you encourage her to keep behaving in that way. Just remember that teenagers often prefer you to praise them privately rather than in front of their friends.
This short video demonstration has examples of how to use descriptive praise to encourage good behaviour. Descriptive praise is telling children exactly what you like about their behaviour. (Download transcript PDF)
11. Plan ahead for difficult conversations
When you need to have difficult conversations, it’s a good idea to think ahead about what you’ll say and how your child might feel. This can help you avoid conflict.
Arranging a time and place where you can have some privacy also helps. For example, “Izzy, I’d like to make a time to talk with you about some things that are happening around the house. We can talk about it over pizza on Saturday night. OK?”
12. Keep “topping up” your relationship
It might help to think of your relationship with your child as a sort of bank account. Spending time together, having fun and giving help and support are “deposits,” but arguments, blaming and criticism are “withdrawals.” The trick is to keep the account balanced – or even in the black.
13. Share your feelings
Telling your child honestly how his behavior affects you can help your relationship. ‘I’ statements can be a big help here. For example, saying “I really worry when you don’t come home on time” will probably get a better response than “You know you’re supposed to call me after school!”
14. Learn to live with mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes, and nobody’s perfect. It’s all about how you deal with mistakes – both your own and your child’s – when they happen. Taking responsibility for mistakes is a good first step, and then working out what you can do to make things better might be your next move.
Saying sorry to your child when you make a mistake helps to keep your relationship going well.
15. Look for ways to stay connected
You can stay connected with your child by spending special and enjoyable time together.
The great thing is that sometimes the best moments are casual and unplanned, like when your child decides to tell you about her day at school over the washing up. When these moments happen, try to stop what you’re doing and give your child your full attention. This sends the message, “You’re important to me and I love you.”
16. Respect your child’s need for privacy
Teenagers crave some privacy and a space of their own.
Asking for your child’s permission to enter his room, and not going through his phone or belongings, are ways to show this respect. Another way might be to think about what you really need to know, and what can be left as private between your child and his friends.
17. Encourage a sense of belonging
Family rituals can give your child a sense of stability and belonging at a time when lots of other things around her – and inside her – might be changing. Some families might choose to have Friday family pizza nights, pancakes for breakfast on Sundays, or particular traditions for celebrating birthdays.
18. Keep promises
When you follow through on promises, good or bad, your child learns to trust and respect you. Be clear and consistent, and promise only what you know you can deliver.
19. Have realistic expectations
Just as you might do, your child will probably slip up and break the rules sometimes. Teenagers and their brains are still under construction – they’re still working out who they are. Testing boundaries is all part of the process, so it helps to be realistic about your child’s behaviour.
20. Look for the funny side of things
Laughing or making jokes can help diffuse tension and possible conflict, and stop you and your child taking things too personally. You can also sometimes use a joke or a laugh to kick off a difficult conversation.
Office of Student Engagement
(619) 263-2171, ext. 3030
Chief Student Affairs Officer
Program Specialist: Office of Student Engagement