It’s never been more important to take a new look at how we think about school discipline. We need to shift away from thinking of discipline as the thing you do to punish a student who is acting out or to rein in a chaotic class.

Our organizations are working with educators across the country to implement research-based approaches that prevent incidents from happening in the first place, like focusing on relationships, developing students’ social and emotional skills, and refining what adults model in the face of conflict.

Teachers who tap into students’ potential by building strong, individualized and trusting relationships with students — and their families — get better academic results and have fewer behavioral issues.

All students benefit from this approach, but it’s particularly important for schools serving immigrants, students of color, students with disabilities, and students identifying as LGBTQIA who are often affected by traumatic experiences in or outside school. Children at Risk reports that 66 percent of staff noticed behavioral problems with students related to stress around immigration.

Now more than ever, schools need to carefully consider how to build emotionally and physically safe school cultures and climates. As Educators for Excellence member Theresa summarized: “If kids don’t feel comfortable, safe and heard in the school — seen as human — then they don’t want to show up, physically or mentally.”

As former teachers, we recognize that adopting non-punitive approaches to discipline represents a significant departure from the status quo in many schools and will be difficult. Teachers and administrators need tools, practice, reinforcement, coaching and time to reflect with their colleagues.

Read the full article about school discipline by Cami Anderson, Layla Avila, and Evan Stone at The Hechinger Report.