Student to Student

Middle and high school students are in a period of significant developmental change and are seeking connections and a sense of belonging while learning to navigate new situations and settings. Many will be brand new to a school community while others have had limited exposure due to the pandemic, and all of them will have been impacted by the isolation of COVID-19. Helping students foster healthy relationships with peers will allow them to develop stronger intrapersonal skills and lay the groundwork for a successful year ahead and overall high school experience. Investment in these core relationships will also increase the strength of the overall school community.

Guiding Questions

  • How can we help foster healthy student-to-student relationships in a meaningful way within the context of the school day?
  • What are some best practices to make sure students have the time and space they need to develop healthy relationships with their peers?
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Implement Weekly Circles

Implement a Weekly Circles model to build and strengthen relationships between students.

  • Is rooted in restorative practice techniques and provides a safe space for students to identify their emotions, share experiences and address issues and conflicts.
  • Builds upon schools’ social emotional learning (SEL) practices.
  • Provides teachers insights into the needs and challenges facing individual students on an ongoing basis.
  • Mitigates student conflicts as they arise and promotes equity and inclusion.

Watch this 5-minute Weekly Circles video+ Add to Action Plan from Edutopia to help you create an effective practice for your school(s).

Download Introduction to Restorative Practices+ Add to Action Plan from Peace Learning Center for additional insights into the benefits of circles and the need for Principal and administration vision, staff buy in and professional development to support the effort.

Provide whole day engagement

Creating a slate of opportunities for students to engage with each other before, during and after the school day promotes and nurtures relationships, social emotional skill building and self-expression. It also provides the opportunity to enhance health and wellness of students through nutrition and physical activity and engage community partners in supporting school communities.

For perspectives on the multiple benefits of Out of School (OST) time programs for both students and families, download The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs (OST)+ Add to Action Plan from the Wallace Foundation. Check out pages 6 – 10 for information linking OST program content to primary and secondary student outcomes.

Share After the last bell The Multiple Roles of Principals in School-based Afterschool Programs+ Add to Action Plan by Lanya Samuelson with the principals in your district. The article clearly lays out the role of a principal in successful OST programs and provides a useful graphic on page 8.