What is Restorative Practice?
Restorative practices (RP) are a series of approaches and tools that strengthen relationships and connections within communities. Everything in RP is an invitation and not a directive. The use of RP addresses the needs of the whole school community by humanizing every person, building a sense of belonging, encouraging positive relationships and behaviors, and repairing harm when necessary. Behind the practice of RP is the mindset of shifting discipline from punitive to restorative.
The Restorative Practice team is trained in all tools of RP which include the Circle Process, mediation, conflict and harm circles, and Restorative Responses.
What is Circle?
The basis of all work in RP is the Circle. The circle process is where we practice the skills of relationship building and express the ideas of Restorative Practice. In circle, everyone is respected and gets the opportunity to share without interruption. The social and emotional well-being of all circle participants is honored and valued.
Restorative Practice and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
RP aligns with the 5 components of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Skills
- Responsible Decision-Making
How do schools use RP?
Schools may implement different tools of RP. Any staff member who wishes to conduct community-building Circles must be trained in Circle Keeping by the RP team. Administrators wishing to fully implement RP must meet and plan with the RP team.
Mediations and conflict circles are done in partnership with the Campbell Law Restorative Justice Clinic. Administrators may contact the RP team with support in conducting voluntary mediation between parties in conflict.
Trained circle keepers received ongoing support and resources.
Why Restorative Practice/Circle as a discipline approach?
Restorative practices create healthy relationships and foster student connection. They reduce, prevent and improve harmful behavior, allow offenders to take full responsibility for their actions, and give victims a voice in the restorative process. Restorative processes addresses disproportionate out-of-school suspensions for students of color. Zero-tolerance policies, especially for non-violent behaviors, do not make schools safer. Instead, these policies trigger a cycle of disengagement which contributes to a negative school culture.
Restorative practices can be seamlessly integrated into classroom practices. Consistent restorative practices help to improve chronic absenteeism and graduation rates. Restorative practices help to facilitate student connection. The circle process allows us to practice resolving conflict and holding individuals and groups accountable. These practices must be woven into the fabric of how we do school to create a caring and supportive culture.