School Climate Transformation
Every school day, Gandhi Institute staff work with students and teachers in conflict resolution spaces, workshops, after school programs, and field trips to the Institute to create healthier, more loving school climates for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Our work draws from Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Practices, Cultural Humility, and other nonviolence frameworks and stands in contrast to punitive models. We seek to disable the school to prison pipeline, reduce the need for policing and security in schools, and instead to cultivate opportunities for conflicts to contribute to learning, moral development and empathy for all. Our School Climate work is centered around collaboration with all school stakeholders to build relationships, and skills and systems for conflict management.
School climates that are safer, more equitable, and educational are built upon teams that have a strong culture that values relationships and supports structures for problem solving. The Gandhi Institute works with administrators, staff, and teams that are dedicated to building more effective and equitable schools. We have led professional development with staff from many Monroe County schools ranging from urban, suburban, charter, and private schools. Visit our workshops & training page for more information.
We offer consulting and facilitation for individuals, teams, and meetings that seek to refine and build skills and systems that promote a healthy school culture.
Students who feel supported socially and emotionally, connected to their peers and the adults around them, are better equipped to build healthy relationships, navigate personal and school related challenges and trauma, learn, and enjoy their school experience. Over the past ten years, the Gandhi Institute has led workshops, clubs, classes, interactive activities during lunch, as well as helped to design and implement systems for meeting students needs such as the Help Zone initiative.
During the 2015-2016 school year, The Gandhi Institute partnered with staff from NorthWest College Prep in piloting the first Help Zone in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) which created a space where students came to get support in managing conflict and building social emotional skills. During the 2017-2018 school year we helped to spread the pilot and staff Help Zones in Enrico Fermi School No. 17, Dr. Charles T. Lundsford STEM Academy School No. 19, and James Monroe High School. The Help Zone structure has now been expanded to more than half of RCSD schools. We are currently partners in staffing Help Zone spaces at Enrico Fermi School No. 17.
Help Zones aim to reduce the achievement gap through key initiatives to minimize loss of instructional time and to provide effective social-emotional support. These conflict resolution spaces are designed to triage the needs of students who may need: assistance handling a conflict or personal issue, locating a adult support systems in the building, classroom material and/or personal hygiene items, etc. This model helps create a supportive environment for both students and staff.
When engaged in School Climate work, we track, analyze, and share data to show impact and contribute to sharing best practices. We use both qualitative and quantitative data to study our impact over time and to refine our approach. Check out the video we created about our collaboration at Monroe High School during the 2015-2016 school year to learn about the impact of the implementation of Restorative Practices with Middle School students.
We collaborate with local and international practitioners and organizations to share best practices being enacted in Restorative Practices and School Climate work. One of the projects we are proud to support is the Bright Spots Inventory alongside our partners on the Roc Restorative Team which utilizes an assets lens to evaluate relationship building and conflict management actions taking place in a given school. This project was inspired by work from Eagle Rock School and is connected to social innovation theory which seeks to build upon actions and systems already existing in a school as foundational to improving school climate. During a Bright Spots Inventory, a team visits the school to observe and document only what is working. After compiling a report, data is shared with leaders and the school community.
“I took away that this school district and our school needs help so we can become better. Towards the beginning I just helped myself, but as the year went on I realized I needed to help others as well. My friend is sometimes absent, so if he is I help him get back on track and help him with the work if he doesn’t understand it.”
-Justice, Leadership Academy for Young Men
“Me and my math teacher get into disagreements. Mr M helped us talk with each other and hear each other’s sides.”
-Middle School Student, Enrico Fermi School #17