After years of conduct infractions being the prevalent form of consequence for poor student behavior, conduct infractions have been phased out this year, a change some students are having trouble adjusting to. Marlborough’s restorative practices committee took a look into the past to understand why old processes were unsuccessful and turned towards a more restorative approach that they claim will be ultimately more effective in the long term.
Around eleven years ago, conduct infractions were given to students using paper slips, and teachers had the option to give a one, two, or three-point infraction determined by the severity of the student’s action. Once a student received a certain amount of infraction points, their citizenship grade was affected. Then around four or five years ago, conduct infractions went digital when MyMarlborough was implemented and students’ citizenship grades were available for parents to view. However, according to the Director of Middle School Sean Fitts, Marlborough leaders are “reimagining what that [conduct infractions] looks like.”
Now, instead of receiving a conduct infraction notification on MyMarlborough, ways of addressing forms of misconduct could be through individual meetings or emails and ending with restorative practices and consequences. These consequences vary in case-by-case situations, depending on the level of harm caused.
“[Marlborough is] invested in [their] students being the best humans possible,” Director of Equity and Inclusion Jenn Wells said. “As you make decisions around your behavior, are you evaluating who you impacted? What harm was done? How can you change that behavior? And we are moving towards a conduct process that is aligned with that.” Restorative practices center on the person or community that was harmed and focus on what they need. These practices allow Marlborough to look at the larger issues that play a role in how harm is able to occur.
After an Upper School Meeting on Sept. 9 about the implementation of restorative practices regarding conduct, students had mixed thoughts.
“I do believe going towards a restorative route is a good idea,” Christina ‘24 said. “I just think I need to see visual evidence of an example and what a consequence would really look like, so I could better judge if it would be effective.”
However other students question the effectiveness of this new approach altogether.
“I am skeptical of the new form of conduct because I think that punishment is important especially for students our age, and currently, the way they presented it, I don’t see much punishment involved,” Natalie ‘24 said.
As students of all grades continue to learn more about the replacement of conduct infractions, many want to see how this new form of conduct will be issued in a real situation before they can form educated opinions. Looking towards the future, Marlborough faculty focusing on restorative practices, including Dr. Wells and Dr. Fitts, continue to do research to develop the best form of conduct practices Marlborough can provide.
“This is a whole shift, and some of these changes can’t happen overnight,” Wells said.