An Alternative to A Suspension Program

Every serious-minded person knows that a large part of the effort required in moral discipline consists in the courage needed to acknowledge the unpleasant consequences of one's past and present acts. ~ John Dewey

Self-discipline, although difficult, and not always easy while combating negative emotions, should be a defensive measure. At least we will be able to prevent the advent of negative conduct dominated by negative emotion. That is 'shila', or moral ethics. Once we develop this by familiarizing ourselves with it, along with mindfulness and conscientiousness, eventually that pattern and way of life will become a part of our own life. ~ Dalai Lama

Today, I had the privilege of meeting an exceptional individual. She dedicates her time to mentoring at-risk children who have faced suspension. She is a crucial part of an outstanding alternative suspension program that supports specific schools.

The YMCA Alternative Suspension program is a remarkable out-of-school intervention to support students disengaging from academics and/or facing suspension. Its primary objective is to empower students with a fresh action plan and provide robust academic support, all to address the root causes of at-risk youth and create positive outcomes.

One of the most tangible benefits of the YMCA Alternative Suspension program is the significant improvement in academic performance

By maintaining a solid academic focus during the student's time in the program, the YMCA ensures that students stay on track with their studies. This effectively bridges the educational gap often arising from traditional suspensions and equips students with the tools to seamlessly reintegrate with their peers.

Another potential benefit is the development of better coping and problem-solving skills

The program aims to provide a well-organized and supportive setting that allows students to introspect their behaviour and gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential outcomes of their actions. By participating in diverse activities and engaging in open discussions, students can learn effective techniques for controlling their emotions and effectively resolving conflicts. This can ultimately lead to a positive shift in behaviour and a decrease in the likelihood of repeating negative actions.

The program also fosters a sense of accountability and personal responsibility

The YMCA encourages students to take ownership of their actions and make positive changes. Students develop a growth mindset, viewing their challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement.

Moreover, the YMCA Alternative Suspension program is about the entire support network, not just the student

By collaborating closely with partner schools, the program ensures a seamless transition back into the academic setting. This communication collaboration between the school, the student, and the family creates a supportive environment for the student, making everyone feel a part of the solution.

Furthermore, the program can enhance students' social skills and self-esteem. This social interaction helps students develop empathy, respect, and a sense of belonging, vital for their overall growth mindset and success in school.

In Summary - Benefits of Alternative Suspensions

Alternative interventions help students maintain their engagement in learning and connection to their school community while minimizing disruptions to their education. These programs provide support by addressing underlying issues such as learning difficulties, emotional challenges, or family situations. They equip students with valuable skills for managing conflict, resolving problems constructively, and making positive choices. Restorative justice approaches promote a sense of accountability and encourage students to take responsibility for their actions while attempting to repair any harm caused. Additionally, the collaborative efforts of students, YMCA Youth Mentors, teachers, school counsellors, school administration, and parents create a compassionate and effective support system for addressing behavioural issues beyond punitive measures.

Traditional suspensions can significantly disrupt a student's education and lead to unintended consequences. Depending on the severity, we should consider alternative approaches to addressing their behaviour to best support our students for future success.

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