Restorative Relationships with Mark Simmonds

Restorative Relationships

  • Mark is a huge believer in restorative practices 
  • And tries to make connections with his students by sharing stories from his childhood 
  • When he can make a connection, students respect him more and are more likely to open up
  • Though, Mark works at an alternative site
  • And it can be difficult to maintain respect 
  • But he really pushes and models restorative practices and respectful conversations 
  • It has helped a lot of students 
  • Mark’s favorite professor at Missouri State helped him develop this mindset because of the support and grace she showed Mark during his undergraduate and graduate studies 

What type of connections do you find in the classroom with the kids?

  • There are similarities between kids that grew up moving around for the military 
  • He grew up with the mindset that you need to respect your parents, so it was an adjustment being a teacher fresh out of the military lifestyle
  • Whenever he would reprimand students he always gives them a rationale 
  • Mark was able to relate to a lot of things the students went through because of his experience with foster care and military life 

What is your relationship right now with education?

  • Mark has a love-hate relationship with education
  • He wanted to move up and get out of the classroom 
  • But he’s not sure if what he’s currently doing is what he ultimately wants to do 
  • He currently works as the leader of a residential facility for at-risk youth that is an extension of the school district 
  • Even though he loves the job and the kids 
  • He also has the duties of a principal without the reflecting pay or support
  • And that can make it difficult to cope with the stress

What is it like to work in a system that’s perpetually labeled as broken? Who or what is the problem? And who or what is the solution?

  • It’s hard to pinpoint one simple thing
  • One thing that has been lost due to the high demands of education is the relationship piece 
  • There’s a lot of focus on the negative and not enough on the positive 
  • The teachers had a duty to keep the students safe and to help them learn and grow
  • And also work on real-life transition skills that they may not be getting at home 
  • The ultimate focus is on the students’ growth and achievement 
  • Another solution is being really open to change 
  • Mark’s school has been disproportionate for students with IEPs and students of color because they’re the hardest to relate to, and some people refuse to do that

The importance of restorative relationships

  • Making connections with students doesn’t just have to be the avenue to get to something else
  • Mark is very intentional in making connections
  • It can be difficult and require vulnerability to connect to someone that is very different from you
  • Mark enjoyed his educational experience growing up because he had teachers that understood that  
  • Growing up in the military, everyone had the same goal. So individual differences didn’t really matter 
  • His first experience with racism didn’t happen until he moved to Springfield 
  • Topics of conversation in education frequently boil down to race 
  • Taking two minutes to connect with a student every day for 10 days can give you a totally different relationship with that student 
  • Some of Mark’s favorite memories in school are from his teachers taking the time to connect with him 

Interested in supporting a child? 

  • 100% of the proceeds donated to the Burntout Educator will provide therapy for a child in the public school system
  • Not therapy capped at a certain number, but an open-ended relationship with a highly qualified therapist in the BHC network.

Think Beyond!

Beyond Healing Center

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