Real Talk Podcast: Restorative Justice: A Better Way To Handle Student Conflict

October 12, 2022
real talk with susan and kristina podcast

In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by Nathan Maynard, author and youth advocate. They discuss restorative justice.  The conversation includes the adverse effects of not practicing restorative justice, practical applications of the restorative justice system, and nurturing positive behavior with empathy.

Links Mentioned In the Show:


Show Notes:

  • (02:27) What kickstarted Nathan Maynard’s unique perspective on restorative justice
  • (05:02) Enhancing learning capacity through the use of restorative justice to develop social capital with others
  • (07:02) Suspension and expulsion  vs. empathy: Which is really a more conducive resolution in school fights?
  • (08:14) The crucial role of educators in the school to prison pipeline
  • (09:37) Do sexual harassment and serious offenses still warrant for restorative justice?
  • (10:33) The restorative justice process and its considerations
  • (11:21) How a student selling drugs can be managed with the restorative justice process
  • (14:32) One deal breaker of the restorative justice process
  • (15:50) A restorative justice success story: the power of social capital and a skilled mediator in a sexual misconduct case
  • (18:06) Should restorative practices be applied in a classroom setting?
  • (20:50) Why cancel culture is doing more harm than good compared to restorative justice 
  • (23:00) How restorative justice gives a voice to those oppressed by the “powerful” by letting all sides be heard
  • (25:28) How to foster empathy by simply being a good listener
  • (26:50) The best practices to avoid treating someone else’s problem as your own
  • (28:53) Getting into the zone of control with co-regulation
  • (31:00) Setting expectations instead of rules to influence positive behavior
  • (32:48) The best way to prepare a student who needs to respond to a disciplinary process
  • (34:36) Making a change by changing our mindsets



Susan Stone: Kristina, I know I’m borrowing off the Bachelor when I say this, but this might be like the best podcast because it’s a topic that you know is a personal passion, uh, topic.

It’s in light of our student disciplinary practice. It’s restorative justice. So 

Kristina Supler: I know for years, Susan Restorative Justice, It’s sort of the little engine that could. This topic we’ve loved, I recall for years working with you, and you’d come back from suspension hearings, expulsion hearings, you name it, any sort of student misconduct proceeding.

And you’d say like, Oh, I’d say, How’d it go? And you’re like, Okay. But it’s just. It’s so unsatisfying. There’s gotta be a better way to do this. And yeah, lo and behold, we learned about restorative justice and I remember that moment when we were both sort of that aha moment. We’re like, This is it. Oh my gosh.

Like this might be the better. That we’re looking for. 

Susan Stone: Yeah. And in 2017, we went to Swarthmore College and got certified in restorative justice thinking that we were going to convert every school district, every college into our way, and 

Kristina Supler: did happen. Did we know that at least colleges and universities in the Title IX contexts certainly weren’t ready for restorative justice, but fortunately, Times have changed.

We’re, we’re so pleased to have today’s guest with us, Nathan Maynard, who together with Brad Weinstein, wrote the acclaimed book “Hacking School Discipline: nine Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility using Restorative Justice”. And Welcome, Nathan, we’re so pleased to have you with us. My to have 

Susan Stone: you with.

We’re really happy to have you. Thank you. Yeah, thank. 

Kristina Supler: I mean, your book offers such a different perspective and frankly, a refreshing perspective on what could be an effective approach to school discipline. So Nathan, thank you for being here today. We’re so pleased. And just tell us a little about your, your background and what led to writing this book.

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, definitely. So, I got started in restorative practices back in 2007. I went through training through the I I R P, the International Institute Restorative Practices, and I really fell in love with it right away. I just started to see how this would work with some of the youth that I was working with.

I was working in part-time at the time in a residential treatment care center and I was really able. Help me open up the doors just to understand this empathy perspective on other people’s lives and, and build from there. After I graduated with my degree in behavioral neuroscience there’s a full-time position that opened up there at the Residential Treatment Care Center.

So I went full-time. Um, and I started doing that and I ran a unit for three years there and it was really great just. Build off of the stuff and continue to see these practices working, working, working and sort of, trial by fire. Learn stuff and you’d see how things are working from there and just make small ITER iterations.

Then after doing that, I went to the clinical team and then I did that for four years. And what I was doing at that time was really helping this restore practices, getting some of the different areas, schools in Lafayette, Indiana. I started seeing all these positive benefits from it and, and the ways that.

We were looking at situations as opportunities now instead of situations that were like, roadblocks for these students and working through this. So I did that for a total of seven years in the justice field. Then I went to education. I was a school administrator for a total of about three and a half years.

My last position, I was came down here to Indianapolis. Help open up Purdue University’s first high school called Purdue Polytechnic High School for underserved and underprivileged youth. At that time I was really able to see how these practices can work in sort of a new setting, new building with this population of students that really need us the most.

That’s where I met Brad and him and I collaborated together and, created hacking school discipline. 

Susan Stone: So it’s really interesting. Thank you for sharing that because you met Brad to collaborate on Restorative Justice. And I met Kristina at our, a former practice that we both worked at.

I, my background is representing students accused of misconduct. And more and more of our cases had a criminal component where a student would be both looking at an expulsion and disciplinary hearing, and Kristina came in and represented our students in the juvenile delinquency proceedings. And we both came upon restorative justice because we’re so sad.

Even though we really work on getting good results, we know that it doesn’t leave students with better. Yes. So just for our listeners, can you tell us really, what is restorative justice and how does it fit in within the context of the disciplinary system? 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, so I think that the, the cool thing about restorative justice and restorative practices is there’s not really this very clear black and white.

This is what it’s about, you know? But the way that I communicate it out to people is it’s this way that we build social capital with other individuals, and the more social capital we have with them, the more that we can have this learning that takes place when situations arise.

It’s a proactive approach to building relationships and building up that social capital. And then on the reactive side, it’s really about, you know, repairing harm and, and focusing on the ways that, we can move past the situation that do arise. We focus a lot on that sense of belonging for our students.

And what does that look like to make sure that we’re all belonging? Cause we know that the more that we belong somewhere, the less that we’re going to feel like an outlier, and that other situations have to happen. 

Kristina Supler: So it’s interesting to hear you talk about social capital. I have to share with you something that literally happened yesterday.

Last night I got home from work. I go on Facebook, I’m scrolling through and in the community Facebook group for where I live. There was this really contentious discussion because the local high school has recently had just surge in student altercations. And so it’s like, Oh my gosh, what’s happening at the high school?

There’s fist fights every day. And parents are talking and sharing their feedback. The school district put out a statement that frankly was, Pretty underwhelming and unsatisfactory, and it was striking for me, especially Susan, thinking about today and speaking with you on this podcast, all of the comments by people saying, Expel the troublemaker.

It’s the only way to get students to listen. Show them this isn’t gonna be tolerated. Get ’em out of there. And it was interesting to see how many people were like, Absolutely. That’s the way. Zero tolerance. So I’m just curious, I mean, I think I know because you wrote a book about restorative justice, but what, what’s your response to this?

What would you say if you were in that Facebook group? Yeah, 

Nathan Maynard: I think that it’s easy when you’re not part of that situation to sort of put, you know what you think should happen, but then when you start to empathize and just be a, a good human, Like what we’re all saying. We all make mistakes. And I think that we have to be looking at these situations as what does it look like to build off of situations and support not just the learning community, but each one of these individuals there in the school.

There’s situations where there’s needs and obligations that do come up for the safety of the students in the safety of the building, but at the end of the day, what does it look like to make sure that we’re not putting our own sort of, Bias onto a situation. We’re not putting our own sort of situation where we’re trying to push something to happen.

We are really looking at this as what does it look like just to move forward? When there’s suspensions that do occur, and a student has to be removed from a school, what does it look like to reintegrate them back into that school? What does it look like to make sure we’re setting them up for success?

A lot of times when something happens and we go back into what happened, It’s really tough for us to really put the pieces together without everyone sort of involved in it. And that’s what punitive discipline does. It tries to put all these pieces together without including everyone in their mindsets and what’s taken place in that.

 I’m against zero tolerance, obviously with restorative justice, restorative practices mindset. I do think that exclusionary practices has led to a lot of this huge issue that we have in our society with the school to prison pipeline.

That’s definitely hitting our historically marginalized populations. So I think that when we’re looking at policies, we’re looking at ways to support educators. We need to be looking at something where we’re doing these consequences that are actually teaching and holding true responsibility for someone’s actions instead of just pushing that out into society or into high risk situations.

Susan Stone: So Nathan, when Kristina and I are hired, we’re not hired for the, Some of the examples you gave in the book. Obviously no one’s gonna spend a lot of money for a lawyer. A lawyer, when their kid is suspended for a day for throwing a pencil in the class. We’re brought in on sex offenses, sexual assault, sexual harassment, serious plagiarism or academic misconduct, hazing, especially at the collegiate level and drug offenses.

My question to you, do you think that under the more serious offenses, then schools should really just rely on a traditional model rather than a restorative approach? or do you think that a restorative approach is appropriate in conjunction with expulsion or separation? 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, I, I think that restorative practices can be really integrated into all aspects of, of discipline there in the school and the justice system.

You know, working in the juvenile justice system for, my, my seven plus years. And working with, sexually maladaptive youth going through the court hearings, seeing students and youth that were, placed in Department of Corrections, reintegrating back into the community, we understand that there’s always, nothing’s indefinite.

So what are we doing to looking at this as again, that that whole picture and that reintegration process is so important and there’s gotta be teaching that takes place. You know, I think that the justice system overall has a lot of this mindset of, rehabilitation. But what does really rehabilitation look.

When you know, you’re not looking at repairing the harm and you’re not looking at this responsibility of your actions through this. So on a, a more minor scale around the schools with even these serious offenses, Yeah. Sometimes this, this student may need to be removed from the school. We have to take into consideration the safety of that learning environment, the other students.

But what does it look like to still use this as an opportunity to learn? What does it still look like to say, okay, even if there’s an expulsion, they’re gonna be coming back next year. So what does this look like to really support them in this process and not just even. The youth that was doing the the criminal act or what this was, but also the people that were affected from it the educators, their families the per se victims of a situation.

What does it look like? They’re all included in this process as well, to really be able to build everyone back up to as whole as possible after something takes place. Quick 

Susan Stone: follow up question. Can you just give me an example and my listeners, what would that look like in a more serious case? Play it out for, What do you think, Kristina?

I’m just curious what kind of offense that we deal with, 

Kristina Supler: uh, a student who’s selling drugs. How about something like that? 

Nathan Maynard: Yep. Yep. Yeah, students selling drugs. So a situation where a student was selling drugs into a school, and let’s say that they were expelled, let’s say there’s a zero tolerance sort of situation that happened around this.

I think that when we’re thinking about in that process of that expulsion, we’ve gotta be thinking about. The goal of restorative practices is this intrinsic motivation, right? We want to get them to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and work through this, but we also have to use extrinsic factors to help get there.

So if the students expelled, there would still be some sort of extrinsic factor to get them to this level of supporting. Changing and coming back into the school. So I think that even when it comes to, meeting with people that were affected from that situation, writing a letter to the school doing something proactive over the summer prior to coming back the next year, something like that where it’s really building that back in.

And then also when they do start back up in the school, what does it look like to give a fresh start? I think that a lot of times our mindsets go into situations and it really ends up hurting things sometimes. . 

Kristina Supler: So I, I think that. Let’s just play out this example of student selling drugs in school or something like that.

Cause as Susan mentioned, my background’s in criminal defense. And so like, when I think only as a criminal defense attorney, it’s like right to me, silent, say nothing, just, you know, Absolutely no apology, no acknowledgement of harm. But as we’ve talked about, like at the root of restorative justice is fostering responsibility, accountability, repairing the harm, and so, how do you reconcile when you have a student going through school proceedings for behavior that might also trigger criminal charges and the school maybe.

Actually does wanna use a restorative practice that it requires or ideally involves some sort of apology or acknowledgement of harm. How can you like, I don’t know, meld the two together where the wrongdoer can acknowledge the harm and apologize, but then not have that? I mean, Susan, we, we see this a lot.

Susan Stone: You know, I just wanna add, to give you a little more context, Nathan, sometimes we’re representing students involved in sexual misconduct cases, especially in the collegiate level. And there can be a dispute as to whether the person accused agrees with the allegations. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they believe they had consent.

So they don’t necessarily wanna apologize because they don’t agree with what they’re being accused of yet. There’s another person on other side who’s really hurting and believes. You have to believe a victim. We know that. So there’s that core. And also, let’s say someone’s accused of rape. We know, and Kristina will say, You can’t apologize because God forbid you could get charged with rape and that has consequences for imprisonment.

Help us understand with that background what you would recommend. 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, and I think when it comes to, these restorative practices as a whole, The accountability comes when someone owns their behavior. So if there’s something where there’s still that gray line, where, the accountability may not be fully there, I feel like the the restorative approach isn’t gonna be fully effective.

Cuz I feel like there’s gotta be something there to take responsibility for those actions. And if it’s sort of the, sort of the scenarios that you were saying, I feel. Sometimes that leads to, I don’t wanna say something because it could get me into more trouble, but it also, if I was, empathizing with sort of the other person, like the person that was offended or affected from the situation, like that would not be great for me to hear, for my repairing, for my situation to go through.

So I think that with restorative practices, when I see it working the best is when, you know the situation is getting that full responsibility. I’ve had a situation before where, There was a, a youth that I was working with and, um, he did a a situation where he was 13 years old. Had a situation where he, um, raped another youth at the at it was, I forget where it was.

It was somewhere at the park. There was also use of like coercion and threats. This, um, youth was placed in the Department of Corrections. When they were coming back into the community, The judge at the time, amazing judge for Tiffany New County she was talking to sort of us and going through the situation and saying like, We’re really scared for this.

The youth that was in Department of Corrections to come back in the community, cuz the community was really fed like it was over a year. But there was still a lot of talk about stuff. There was some gang stuff involved with it. There was a lot of stuff and they were scared. What’s gonna happen when this student come or this youth comes back to community.

I, I get. Yeah, and I, so I went to the Department of Corrections with them and got, I was able to get the victim’s family on board to come there with me, do a restorative justice mediation. I mean, it was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever done. It was a really, really powerful one. It wasn’t appropriate for the, the victim of that situation to be present for it, But it was very, very, very powerful, and sometimes forgiveness looks different in all situations, but what ended up happening there?

We put some social capital into that relationship between the offender and the victim’s families. So then when they integrated back into the community, there wasn’t as much tension as what could have happened from that youth returning back to the community.

Kristina Supler: It’s interesting that example in particular, Nathan, it sounds like the key to effective restorative justice is having a really skilled facilitator. I mean, would you agree, Susan? 

Susan Stone: I, we spent, I, I’m harkening back to 2017 when we were trained in restorative justice. And people think that it’s just like mediation, which also requires skill. But I think this is even a higher level of skill because it requires a lot more pre-meeting with people, a lot more pre-planning.

And I do like that your book goes into how to set up the restorative justice to be successful and thought. Should I have the victim here? Who are the other stakeholders? So I would agree. I mean 

Kristina Supler: it, I guess it makes me think about though, let’s, let’s talk reality, Nathan. You’ve got a stress teacher in a classroom with some really amazing students and then some students who are real handful. And I guess my question is at times is, is restorative justice a little bit too pie in the sky? I mean, when these teachers are just trying to keep Yeah, the class under control, moving forward, check the boxes for the curriculum. In reality, are they really gonna stop the lesson?

Say, Okay, students huddle up, let’s, let’s talk. I mean, some of this sounds very. I mean, I love it, but then I’m like, Okay, what does this look like in reality? I mean, what would, how would you poll, Is that the word? There you go. 

Nathan Maynard: Yes, Pollyanna. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, so it’s, it’s really interesting cause that’s the biggest pushback I get around these restorative practices.

What does this look like when you have 30 kids and they’re all doing something what are you gonna do? Like, stop the lesson, pull it out in the hallway, have a 15 minute conversation with them, resolve some sort of conflict, and that that can’t happen. 

So what we talk a lot about, And we go offer the research from Dr. Luke Roberts, who’s a colleague of ours. And, and one of my friends he’s worked outta Cambridge University and Dr. Roberts talked a lot about he actually was a nonbeliever of restorative practices. He was doing a presentation for his master’s degree and talked about how restorative justice will never work in schools for that reason.

Someone from Cambridge was there and they were like, Hey, Luke, come study here and let’s see. You prove your point. So he’s done about 10 years worth of research to show how this can be effective in the schools. And what his research shows a lot about is it’s a very proactive approach about building community in your classroom.

When it comes to that reactive side, what the ratio is is 80% proactive, 20% reactive around these restorative practices in schools. The, the proactive is the establishing and the feeding of relationships. And on the reactive side is the repairing of the harm and having those conversations. I’ve seen restorative conversations go even really quickly with teachers where it could be, I have I was in a school recently and there’s a first grade teacher sort of walking this group of first or first graders down the hallway.

And what happened was this one young lady looked over at the teacher and said, Hey, Brian just kicked me. And the teacher said, Well, did you like it? The young girl said, No, I didn’t like it. And she said, Okay, well you need to tell him you didn’t like him, and asked him not to do it again. So the little girl turned in and said, You know, I didn’t like that. Please don’t do that again. 

That’s a quick sort of conflict resolution that took, two minutes or less. Teacher didn’t have to pull ’em aside, do a big conversation. So we want to teach some of these skills that are still using the restorative and that proactive approach for really building off there.

Susan Stone: We are seeing a lot more students starting as early. As high school being less open to conversations and more interested in cancel culture. You hurt me. You hurt my feelings. You know what? I’m not even gonna go to the school and talk about it. I’m gonna post online what I think of you and ruin you that way.

And we’ve seen some real repercussions recently. We’ve had cases where a student was accused of different Racist statements whether they made him or not, but it all went viral and college acceptances were revoked. Talk about getting canceled. How does restorative justice compare with cancel culture?

Because isn’t cancel culture the ultimate of logical consequences? Should it happen? Shouldn’t it happen? I just want your thoughts on that. 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, I, I think cancel car culture goes against restorative practices. Because it doesn’t help us seek to understand the all aspects of a situation. It pretty much just says, You did this and you’re, you’re not a part of this anymore.

It doesn’t really go, go deeper into the situation, understand the, the different factors of it. We also understand that even when it comes to ostracizing an individual, how impactful that is. Sort of human relationship development and what that looks like. So when we do something around cancel culture, it really says we’re not willing to listen to things.

If you do X, Y, or Z, you know, you’re sort of off the table. And that’s what restorative practices doesn’t do. Restorative practices says people make mistakes. Some way worse than the others. We understand that, but there’s needs and obligations that come out. But there’s also this ability that, people can fix things to the best of their ability, even if it’s not going to get them out of something.

You know, Consequences are still needed. But I feel like what restorative practices does is it takes not just the logical side of consequence, but also pulls in that natural side of consequences. When I do somebody wrong and I have to sit across from them and own that with them and fix that with them, you know. That’s a natural aspect.

If there’s something logical that takes place too, that’s another piece of the puzzle. But when I’m trying to create true behavior change in someone and trying to address what’s taking place, I need that natural side and that logical side. And I feel like that’s what cancel culture doesn’t do. You know, I might just, 

Susan Stone: Well, I agree with you, but Nathan, what happens?

Students get canceled before they even know that they’re accused of something. The timing doesn’t necessarily work. So what are you gonna do in that situation where there’s been an accusation? It may or may not be accused, but the student’s already been canceled. And it’s out there on the internet. And it’s getting thousands and thousands of likes and views.

Nathan Maynard: And that type of situations are, really in sense. And I, I worked with a situation recently where it was actually, you know, I don’t wanna say the state, but with an educator there, the situation happened, it was proved false, but again, it was the very much canceled culture wrong. The, the parents, the, all, every aspect of it when we were looking through that situation and trying to see what we can do to move forward.

Even with this teacher they, they ended up leaving, but we were still looking at the community as a whole. What restorative practices does too is says it’s not just this restoring and repairative stuff, it’s also facilitating open dialogue and communication around situations and letting all sides be heard in something.

I think a lot of times we hear the voices of whoever’s in the most power. Right. And that might be in whatever situation. That’s true. 

Susan Stone: Oh my gosh. Can I write that down? Yeah. We share the voices of the MO ones in most power. In a school community, who would that be? 

Nathan Maynard: A lot of times it’s the it’s the it could be the board, it could be sort of leadership there in the building on that sort of more micro level, but, on that sort of community as a whole sometimes too it goes with, whoever’s got, cuz we understand there’s systemic issues within our societies, so sometimes it’s people of priviledge that gets their stuff out there a little bit more as well.

There’s a lot of different things that go into it. And what restorative practices says is we’re not gonna put anyone up here on the top of this triangle. We’re gonna do everything as a circle and put everyone on the sort of the same page, be heard, be listened to, and we set guidance. We set collective commitments to each other.

That what we talk about, what we don’t talk about, and really facilitate this as an open dialogue. And there’s so much learning that happens from that. When we can have conversations where everyone’s able to discuss things and be heard and be a part of something, you know it, it leads to less sort of social media pushing and sort of our keyboard warriors right there in our instant gratification society, right?

It, it helps saying we need to own this stuff with other people. And again, it’s a natural thing as well to sit across from someone, talk something out, build something up and move forward. And it’s really easy to set those conversations up. Cuz we don’t want them to turn into complaining sessions or, or everyone’s sort of vs. In a hive and. We need this person out. 

You set norms ahead of time. When those norms aren’t followed, you redirect. And if that doesn’t work, you can sort of end the circle. You can bring different people out. But you know, those circles were designed looking at the roots from the indigenous cultures to make sure that we’re all addressing things as a whole.

And I think restorative practices really gives us that. 

Kristina Supler: It’s interesting, this discussion of cancel culture. It makes me think about, because really cancel culture is the antithesis of restorative justice, right? But it makes me think about chapter seven in the book, which is entitled, Cultivate Empathy, Build the Capacity to Listen, understand and communicate.

And you talk about how empathy is a skill that’s learned and practiced, but How do you foster empathy in reality? I’m I’d like to hear your thoughts on what that looks like. 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah. I think to foster empathy, we need to be a good listener. We a good reflective listener and really hearing different people.

I think a lot of times when we’re trying to be empathetic, we’re still pulling in our own perspectives, our rich tapestry of life events that we, you know, go into something and when we really don’t put ourselves in check. What ends up happening is we’re not fostering true empathy. We’re fostering empathy through our perspective.

So when we’re trying to foster empathy, the biggest investing that we can do is just be a good listener and, and hear people for what we’re asking. Ask good, open ended questions. Use good, effective eye statements, reflect back and just really putting ’em back on the other person. That’s also how you build good relationships too, right?

You hear people from where 

Kristina Supler: they’re at. So true. It’s so true, and it’s interesting to think about how these. Tenants of restorative justice actually applied to basically just being a good human being and developing good interpersonal skills. Yes. But let me just ask you one follow up question related to empathy, because with particularly through the pandemic, we’ve seen such a surge in depression and anxiety among students, and when you have a particularly anxious student and you’re trying to foster empathy, how do you.

Teach the student to be empathetic, but also not take on someone else’s problems as their own. Because I think that’s a real challenge, especially for younger students. 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, so I like, I like to look at the applied neuroscience of regulation. A lot of times when we’re going into even being a good listener or going through these different skills, when I have a student and they are hyper aroused, they’re, moving around.

This teacher hates me or this situation’s happening they’re hyper aroused. I know. My job is to get them back into a window of tolerance. If they’re hypo aroused, they’re lethargic, withdrawn, not speaking to me. I know I need to get them up a level before I get them into that sort of window of tolerance.

Everything that I’m going to be saying and what I’m gonna be processing is going to be through this lens of safety, right? We know that amygdala might be triggered, they might be looking at things as this fight, flight, or freeze response. So if we want to be looking and really building this up from not putting this happened when I was younger, this situation happened.

We need to sensor ourselves first and then deliver that. And that’s why we have that chapter in the book too. Cuz you know the, the book’s not just a guide for restorative practices. It’s really this way that what Brad and I saw worked for us as practitioners, as, as educators, as youth workers. 

Susan Stone: Well, I have to tell you, you are speaking our language when you talk about this.

Kristina and I both love practicing yoga and we’ve actually worked ourselves. Mm-hmm. on being less reactive. We both have very strong personalities. It’s true. We’re both, I would say alpha females trying to work together. And the way we have done a lot of personal work is through getting control of our stress response.

However, kids, it’s really difficult with kids. So what do you do? I mean, you can’t restrain them. Yeah, you can’t. I, we’ve dealt with straining an elopement cases where kids just literally run out of the school building. And anyone who’s a parent has seen a young child tantrum and anyone who’s a parent who’s had teenagers has watched the 16 year old tantrum.

So can you play it out how you get them in that zone of control? 

Nathan Maynard: And it, there’s a lot of different, ways to get there. I think the best thing too is just being a really aware of nonverbals, verbals, what’s taking place. I think a lot of times the easiest way to co-regulate or regulate someone is co-regulation, looking at the way that we are aiming ourselves.

You know, Dr. Bruce Perry said, A dysregulated adult can never regulate a dysregulated child. So making sure that we’re Oh my gosh. So true. Yep. We’re regulating. Yeah. And, and going into those situations. And then what we can do in there is we can really show how this is, if there’s situations. Let’s say like my son’s worked up or my girlfriend’s worked up over a situation and I go and I say, Calm down, calm down, Calm down.

That’s not going to work. What I’m gonna, That’s the amount of fire . Yeah, yeah, that’s, Yeah. It’s just, Yeah. Calm down. Yeah. Yeah. And, yep. And you know, and that’s not gonna work. You know what ends up happening is you gotta hear the person. You’ve gotta co-regulate with them. And then, then when they’re open to it, that’s when you can help suggesting, Hey, let’s take a couple deep breaths before we continue this on.

Hey, let’s go for a walk. Let’s not talk about this for a couple minutes. Or, I, if my son’s, disregulated, he’s running around the room and doing something, you know, my biggest goal is to be a safe person. And I don’t try to force compliance on things. If I try to force compliance on things, that creates more dysregulation, because that’s more of a safety thing.

When we are in our fight, flight or freeze response, when that amygdala is triggered the thing our brain students say, Stay safe. So when someone’s saying, Don’t stay safe. Sit down. Stop talking. Do this. You know, our brain’s saying no. And we get more opposition. When, when we start to feel blame and shame over a situation, we more triggers come out.

So the easiest thing is just to be a good listener. Look around. See what’s taken place. And then co-regulate them with, the way that supports safety at the center of sort of it. 

Kristina Supler: I wanna talk about in chapter four of the book, you talk or you delve into this idea of establishing clear expectations versus rules.

And I guess my question for you, I, I think I understand what you’re getting at, but is, is this just semantics or like what’s really at the heart of that notion. 

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, so a little bit of semantics. A little bit of that because we understand how powerful our verbal and nonverbal skills are, how that can trigger a situation or, or make it better.

We also know that kids love to gamify processes, right? They love to gamify systems. There’s been situation where I said, Hey, you know, I’ve heard teachers say, butts and seats, and then you see a kid, holding their chair and walking across the classroom, right? Like, my butt’s still in seat.

That’s funny. Yeah, and it’s, it’s funny and it’s good, but it’s exhausting for teachers, right? Cause then they’re like, Come on. Like it might be funny the first two times. But then 15 times when you have all these kindergartners starting to do it. Like, come on now. So what expectations does, it makes our redirections easier if we say, Be responsible.

I can link that into anything. And then I’m teaching what be responsible is a lot of times our kids that we work with, they may be able to normalize their emotions and normalize sort of situations and sometimes they can’t. So what we wanna do with our expectations is it helps sort of us coach on that social emotional development as well as it makes our job easier because then our redirections are less of a gamified process.

Susan Stone: We are now seeing a serious uptick and unhappy kids, unhappy families, and extreme mental health disorders. We’ve had kids tell us that they have thought about suicide. We’ve dealt with cutting. We’ve dealt with obviously substance abuse and in turn, when we’re working with the parents of our clients, cuz we represent kids.

We can tell that they’re depressed and they’re exhausted and they’re depleted. So could you give Kristina and I a little tip when we’re trying, should we use a restorative practice also, when trying to help students and get in a framework where they do have to respond to a disciplinary process?

Nathan Maynard: Yeah, I, and I think when we start to see situations occur and some of those, really concerning things, I think a lot of times we go into things as, I, I know my downfall is I’m a problem solver, so I try to solve problems, right? I go into situations of, Oh, you’re cutting, you’re depressed.

Hey, go for a walk. Hey, use this affirmation. Hey, try to do this, Talk to these different people. But what ends up happening is I don’t respect someone by doing that, I, I’m showing them. My knowledge is more respectful than what you’re going through. I know more than you. We’re thinking about talking to our younger kiddos. You know, my six year old son or, or kindergartners, pre-K schools, they still are able to connect the dots.

We have to help them connect the dots in situations and be truly heard. That’s why I love, even cognitive dissonance. When you’re thinking about pairing, behaviors to goals and having them connect the dots. When you’re dealing with some of these different concerns, a lot of times the brain starts to make connections that might be there, or the brain makes connections that is.

But either way, we wanna respect those connections and help them work through that situation instead of just commanding over it compliance based over it. And again, that’s what restorative tells us to do, is to be a good listener to, to ask those questions, go through, connect the dots with them through that cognitive distance process.

Kristina Supler: Well, it makes me think about looping back to something you said earlier, trying to develop intrinsic motivation using external factors. Yeah. So I, I think that’s sort of at the heart of this also, this idea of being a good listener. Helping work through an issue versus trying to troubleshoot right out of the gates.

But Nathan, this has been such a really enjoyable and thought provoking discussion today, so I hate to wrap it up, but this is life. Let me ask you before we go, is there anything we haven’t touched on today that you think is important to share with our 

Nathan Maynard: listeners? I mean, I think the biggest thing around these restorative practices and restorative justice, We want to look at all perspectives of situations.

We want to, again, we wanna change things, right? Like if we see something happening, we see something in our class happening, something in our society happening. We want things to change. And we need to think about outside of our box, outside of our sort of fixed mindsets, what we grew up with, what we believe works, whatever this is, and be open to different things.

I tell so many future practitioners or educators that are looking at this. Try one thing. See if it gives a. Give it a chance. If you need to make small iterations in it, that’s completely cool, but give something a chance. And I think that a lot of times we stamp something as, Oh, this restorative stuff is no consequences.

Or it’s soft con, you know, soft discipline and it’s not able to be given a chance. 

Susan Stone: Well, you know what, Nathan? I do wanna say something to you and to Kristina. I think I was right that this is one of the best podcasts we we’ve ever had. 

Kristina Supler: I agree. 

Susan Stone: I agree. . Really? I, I, I, Listeners, I wish you could see Nathan smiling. Because we, I really feel like we could have stayed here an hour more.

I wanted to talk about growth mindset. There’s so much packed into your book, Hacking School Discipline: Nine Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility using Restorative Justice. We didn’t get a chance to talk about your app and your other business. So we might have to do a part two on this 

Nathan Maynard: podcast for sure.

Yeah, and I’m sure Brad would love to be a part of that.