Rooted in the Unconditional Education model, the Reset Counselor’s job is to address student behaviors which “bubble up” into Tier II and III. Instead of making an office referral or sending a student to the principal, classroom teachers summon mental health trained Seneca staff to help a student “reset.” Students are accompanied outside of the classroom (ideally remaining in close proximity to the room) to go through four loosely defined steps:
- Recovery: If a student is escalated or unable to engage with Seneca staff, they are provided a quiet, neutral activity for a short period of time (e.g. drawing, taking a short, accompanied walk).
- Reflection: Seneca staff create space for students to talk about their perception of the behavior, acknowledging and asking questions. This step often involves completing a “reflection sheet,” on which students can write or draw.
- Restoration: Seneca staff often facilitate brief restorative check-ins between students, or between staff and students.
- Reintegration: Seneca staff accompany students back into the classroom, remaining with the students until they are back on track.
The hope behind the Reset Counselor position came to fruition- the school experienced a significant decline in office referrals and suspensions. Seneca staff began to develop meaningful relationships with students in need of reoccurring resets, and data collected over time showed a decrease in both frequency and duration of reset occurrences. Through this approach, the school was able to maximize in-class time for students and substantially reduce exclusionary discipline.
Recently there has been even more reason to be hopeful in Seattle. Seattle Public Schools have made huge strides in reducing disproportionality, though there is much work left to be done. Seneca is proud to be a key part of this effort, currently staffing five full-time Reset Counselors at elementary and middle schools across South Seattle.
Lihi Rosenthal, Executive Director of Washington Programs