Real Schools & Our School Culture by Avigail Wonder – Head of Secondary School

Real Schools & Our School Culture by Avigail Wonder – Head of Secondary School

Let’s get real. We are blessed.

Our students are energetic creative, kind and intelligent people. They come to school each day wanting to achieve their best and the make the world a better place. They are wonderful people who also happen to have not-yet-fully-developed brains who are navigating a complex world. They face constant challenges – screens, social media, peer-pressure, high emotions, family conflict, learning challenges – and life throws other curveballs at them too.

As our understanding about the importance of supporting young people grows, there is even more urgency about refining and enhancing how adults work with children and young people. Young people of today need to build their autonomy, responsibility and resilience – yet feel strong connections and belonging to their families and schools. Teachers are some of the most influential people in our children’s lives and school is the place where they spend most of their waking hours.

At Yavneh, we continuously ask ourselves, how can we transform and enhance our school culture to focus on what really counts? How can we help our students be more caring and empathetic, more responsible and independent, and more committed to their learning? How can our staff develop their relationships with students? How can we strength parents’ trust in our practice? How can we become a stronger and more connected community where students, parents and staff share a stronger commitment to our school values? 

It’s all about relationships.

Yavneh has long employed restorative practices in working with students. But the older model of restorative practices relied on when things ‘go wrong’, rather than on proactively creating a connected and committed school culture. Developing our relationships between students, staff and parents is where our focus lies so over the past few years we’ve been seeking tangible strategies to make our commitment to principles we value while enhancing our school culture.

This year, Yavneh has joined a network of schools as a RealSchools Partner School. Our focus will be on Restorative Practice 2.0 – a restorative model that is ‘real’ as it gets to the heart of what education is; creating menschen who choose to do the right thing because that’s who they are.

Restorative Practices help us to create a warm and supportive environment for learning by building stronger relationships between staff and students.

Restorative Practices is about teaching our students responsibility through experience.

Restorative Practices is all about harm and relationships. When somebody does damage in a relationship – we get to work on fixing that up.

Being a genuine RP2.0 school means a shift in mindset of how we work with our students. Our focus will be on language, conduct and mindset.

Our teaching and learning conduct will be more relational. We will focus our staff and student body on kind and inclusive language and effective conflict resolution. Our mindset aims to see the world through ‘restorative lenses’ that focus on relationships.

Our Primary and Secondary Staff participated in our first RealSchools Professional Learning with our consultant Cassie Kitani. The day was full of profound learnings and deepening understanding about what influences our interactions, the neuroscience around behaviour and the power of language, conduct and mindset on shaping relationships with students.

We are so excited for this year and need you – our parents and families – to join us in learning more about our partnership with RealSchools. Keep an eye out for details about our Parent Evening in mid-May where Cassie will share with you the philosophy and methodology of what it is to be a truly committed RP2.0 school.