The normally calm and measured Year 1 teacher, Ms Julie Finlayson, has thrown the restorative handbook out the window when dealing with a student who bullied her son, Bobby.
Ms Finlayson neglected to hold a conference and instead chose to give the offender, Nathaniel Mooney, a dose of 1970’s-style educational discipline.
All teachers at Everyday P-12 School are trained in Restorative Practices. The first step for a teacher dealing with an incident is to hold a Restorative Conference between the offender and their victim. After witnessing a student push her son into the corner of a corridor and trap him there, Ms Finlayson neglected to hold a conference and instead chose to give the offender, Nathaniel Mooney, a dose of 1970’s-style educational discipline.
Rather than follow the script that restorative teachers are required to use, including asking the offender what happened and to explain the harm that was caused by their actions, Ms Finlayson cut loose. Bystanders report hearing her state, ‘You picked the wrong kid to mess with’, ‘You’re going to pay for this’ and ‘Nobody puts Bobby in the corner!’
Nathaniel, the offender, should have been given the opportunity to apologise to Bobby and repair their relationship. However, Ms Finlayson decided on another strategy to set things straight. ‘I grabbed the little turd and shoved him into the corner,’ stated Ms Finlayson. ‘He did it to Bobby, so I showed him how it feels.’ The Year 1 teacher wasn’t finished doling out the restorative justice. After shoving Nathaniel into the corner herself, she encouraged any other nearby student who had been bullied by the well-known tormentor to shove him as well. ‘It was a chance for the kids he’s picked on to get one back on him.’
The teacher then explained her rationale for ignoring the Restorative Practice. ‘A no-hoper like Nathaniel Mooney, he knows the system. If I asked him to explain the harm he’d caused he would have made-up some crap about hurting Bobby’s feelings and then given a fake apology. Two minutes later he’d be out in the yard shoving Bobby again.’
While Nathaniel’s parents are irate at his treatment, other parents support scrapping the Restorative Practice. One remarked, ‘When my daughter was picked on I told her to use the conference as a chance to get close to her bully, look her in the eye … then smack her in the face. You know, get a good shot in then the restorative teacher can break it up. That way the bully doesn’t have a chance to retaliate.’
When my daughter was picked on I told her to use the conference as a chance to get close to her bully, look her in the eye … then smack her in the face.