Thank-you Teresa Michayluk – Walter Murray Collegiate, Megan Mitchel – Tommy Douglas Collegiate, Shauna Kennon – Mount Royal Collegiate, Brittney McFadden – Bedford Road Collegiate, RAP workers with Saskatoon Public Schools for this blog.
What is RAP? Well, we like to say we have the best job in the world! Restorative Action Program (RAP) Facilitators. We spend our days working in high schools supporting students involved in conflict, bullying situations, and struggling with mental health concerns. We help students who need support with healthy relationships and the general shenanigans of being a teenager these days. We connect with students who need a trusted adult in their corner, and we are someone who listens and guides when life gets tough.
We use the framework of “PIR,“ Prevention, Intervention and Reconnection. It reflects the variety of ways we support our students throughout the school year.
Prevention gives us the opportunity to get into classrooms for presentations and workshops on topics like Digital Citizenships and online behaviours/choices, team building, conflict resolution and healthy relationships. It can also include working with community agencies like Justice Services and/or Mental Health and Addictions Services to help students be successful with non-academic commitments/obligations.
Without a doubt, Intervention is what keeps us the busiest—meeting with students one on one, getting to know them, learning about their situation, working together to come up with the best way to support them. Sometimes all we need to do is listen and provide a safe space for students to vent. Sometimes we are action–focused, working on slowing down the conflict and working with other students involved and sometimes making referrals to school supports and community supports. Interventions can vary depending on what‘s happening, such as mediations, team meetings, talking with parents or guardians, and advocating for students with teachers. One of the best parts of Intervention is students’ creativity and willingness to trust us through tough times.
Reconnection, especially in COVID times, is so important. Students sometimes feel teachers are angry or upset with them if they have struggled to connect in the classroom. This is not often true, and it‘s just what the student assumes. We help students have conversations with their teachers about what‘s been going on, and we help teachers understand particular circumstances on behalf of students. Teachers will often ask if we have any information about specific students if they have been missing school; this speaks to the diversity of our support for students. As we navigate learning in the environment of reduced in–person class time, students have been more and more disconnected. We use this time to connect with families. We find out why they are missing school, and we identify barriers that keep them from being successful and help make plans to get them back on track. Families need to stay connected with our schools while student’s in-person learning is reduced.
RAP is successful because, as Facilitators, we build trusting relationships with our students. We get to have so much fun watching them grow over the years until they graduate. Everyone changes so much over their time in high school, and it’s an honour to be a part of their journey, no matter how bumpy the road might get.