At the Chula Vista, National City, and Linda Vista resource centers of Learn4Life Innovation High School San Diego, only four students were suspended during the 2016-17 school year – less than 1 percent of the student population of more than 500 students. For the leadership team and staff at Innovation High School this rate was still too high. The team and staff embraced further training on restorative practices, positive behavior supports and interventions in order to better support student success. One of the goals of the positive behavior support practice is to reflect on and change how staff perceive and act on behavior in order to embrace the notion that learning new behaviors is as much a part of a student’s education as learning new reading strategies.
When students cannot read effectively, the staff teaches; when students cannot complete math problems accurately, the staff teaches; when students do not meet behavioral expectations, what does the staff do, implement punishment? At Innovation High School, the answer is, “They teach.”
Innovation High School is in its third year of developing staff, systems, and procedures through a trauma informed lens and is coming to see the fruits of their labor in implementing practical procedures and systems. In reexamining student behavior, the staff works to understand why challenging behavior occurs and address the motivation behind the behavior. In doing so, adjustments are made to the learning environment to provide positive support and encouragement for desired behavior. The staff at Innovation High School are trained in intervention procedures, reflection processes, and being flexible in the learning environment. Through this process, students are guided in how to adjust their behavior and learn new behaviors. Rather than dolling out punishment, the goal of positive behavior support is to reinforce positive behavior, redirect undesirable behavior, cultivate learning new behaviors and empower students to be responsible for and accountable to their school environment.
As of February 26, 2018, more than halfway through the 2017-18 school year at the Chula Vista, National City, and Linda Vista resource centers, there have been zero suspensions. The outlook is good on positive behavior supports and restorative practices leading to more positive constructive results in student behavior and outcomes at Innovation High School.