Building Bridges: An Alternative to School Suspension by Michelle Rappaport is a book that offers schools a solution to the system issue. Most schools throughout the country suspend a student when a student or students participate in a grievous act. The current suspension process costs schools thousands of dollars, districts millions of lost revenue and students days of lost learning.
The Building Bridges book presents a different path for these students. Keeping them in school and working with each student on their improving their decision making skills and developing strategies to navigate through difficult situations. This program helps students make better choices improving their interpersonal interactions and time in class.
The book provides:
Thinking Sheets for both staff and students are used for the initial processing with the student at the start of their day in Building Bridges. The staff involved in the incident is asked to fill out the "staff" perspective Thinking sheet in detail. the sheet is then used when processing with the student after he/she (the student) has completed their own sheet.
Scenarios are designed to help students make better choices by explaining the choices that could be made by other students. There are 50 scenarios provided in the book ranging in issues from Facebook/media issues brought to school; issues with adults during the school day; peer issues, to drugs on campus. The scenarios are done on two levels; one way to open-ended questions to encourage students to come up with their own alternatives to specific situations. The other way is multiple choice options to help students identify a resolution they may be unable to come up with on their own.
Worksheets are to be completed after the students finish processing. This section is done when the student is able to take responsibility for their part in the situation that has occurred. The student must take responsibility without putting any blame on any person.There is no order to the worksheets. Use any worksheetor more than one worksheet that will help the student understand the choices them make (are making) and how those choices affect them, and how the people around them (at school and possibly at home) are being affected.
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