"Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict…” -Dorothy Thompson
As educators, it is our role to create supportive school communities where students can thrive and learn the academic, social, and emotional skills that they need to succeed in college, career, and life. Restorative Practices (RP) provide a way for our school to strengthen community, build relationships among students and between students and staff. This also gives us the opportunity to increase the safety and productivity of the learning environment. RP is a reflective practice that encourages personal responsibility, giving a voice to both the person harmed as well as the person who caused the harm.
How the D11 Community uses Restorative Practices
Restorative Conversations allow the educators to demonstrate empathy, teach children how to resolve conflict, and most importantly, allow students to have voice. It's an opportunity for both the educator and student to express their feelings about what's going on in the classroom, while setting high expectations.
Classroom Talking Circles
Proactively, all students participate in regular talking circles to forge and strengthen the bonds that bring us closer together. We are accepting of all people, intolerant of hate, and recognize the strength in our diversity.
A restorative mindset is a way of thinking. It describes how a person understands community and one’s role in that community. It also places emphasis on healthy, respectful relationships among adults and children as a central value.
Restorative (Affective) Language
Affective language encourages positive interactions. This language uses “I-I” statements to remain non-judgmental, gives the speaker positive feedback through empathic listening, and encourages the person to speak using affective questions.
Restorative Justice is a confidential process that:
- Focuses on harms and consequent needs (the victims’, as well as the community’s and the offenders’)
- Addresses obligations resulting from those harms
- Uses inclusive, collaborative processes
- Involves those with a legitimate stake in the situation (victims, offenders, community members)
- Seeks to put right the wrongs
How can I use restorative practices in my home?
- Celebrate daily displays of empathy! Encourage the building of relationships with all types of people (even those different than us) by having conversations about how our positive actions and displays of kindness affect others.
- Encourage children to tie feelings and needs together when they have trouble communicating. For example, “I feel happy when I make the adults in my life proud because I need to be a positive part of my family.” Focus on individual feelings and needs rather than placing “blame” on someone else.
- When harm occurs, ask children to think about the situation from another person’s perspective.
- Set aside family time to come up with a shared protocol for behaviors inside and outside of your house. Discuss how you want your actions to impact the world. Having a shared vision will help to hold each other accountable.
- Guide children to come up with their own ways to repair harm that they caused. Help them to think about who was impacted by their actions and how.
- During family discussion, practice and praise empathetic listening! “I heard you say…”, “I like what you said about…”, “I heard you say ____ and I think…” go a long way to show kids that they are listened to and cared for.