Why Restorative Practices?

Reasons for Restorative Practices in Schools

School-to-Prison Pipeline and Disproportionate Discipline

When students face exclusionary discipline, they lose connection with their community and start down the road of juvenile delinquency, which leads to prison.

Lack of Belonging, Safety, and Trust in Schools

When these aren’t present, kids misbehave and lose interest in school.

Lost Instructional Time

Exclusionary discipline, poor sense of classroom community, and punitive discipline lead to a significant loss of instructional time.

Suspensions and Office Referrals are Too High

Punitive discipline policies lead to pushing kids out of the classroom and into the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Staff and Administration Turnover

When there isn’t a strong sense of community, connection, belonging, safety, and trust for adults, it leads to staff and administration turnover. Relational consistency is key for dealing with trauma.

Student Tardies and Attendance

When students don’t feel connected to school or motivated to attend, they are often tardy and even absent. A strong relational environment with an engaging curriculum is what makes students want to come to school.

Lack of Family Engagement

Some students and families have been historically disengaged from school, so there is a need to go slow and be steadfast in building connection and community, both with families and students. In order to authentically engage students and families, we need to build or re-build trust.

What Can Restorative Practices Do?

It is an alternative to zero-tolerance discipline policies
It addresses the school-to-prison pipeline
It increases belonging, safety, and trust among staff & students
It decreases lost instructional time due to exclusionary discipline
It decreases staff and administration turnover
It decreases student tardies and increases student attendance
It increases family engagement
It increases social-emotional skills like empathy, perspective-taking, and problem-solving
However, for programs to succeed, they must be comprehensive and implemented strategically. And supporting educators every step of the way is critical.

There are many benefits to using restorative practices:
Circling up on a routine basis harnesses the best thinking of a group to strengthen relationships and develop its own solutions.

Circle processes enhance everyone’s sense of belonging. They develop participants’ confidence in their own ability to reach mutual understanding and develop creative solutions. They build confidence in the community’s ability to handle conflicts constructively, mitigating the effects of unwanted behavior and negotiating restitution for serious harm.

Restorative circles…

Are intrinsically democratic, allowing all voices to be heard.
Reinforce social skills, such as common courtesy and mutual respect.
Develop good listening and speaking skills.
Increase awareness of how one’s words and actions affect others.
Provide a safe forum for strong feelings while minimizing aggression.
Reduce blame and resulting paralysis.
Eliminate “elephants in the room.”
Create protocols for restitution and repairing harm.

In a school environment, Restorative Practices –

Promote self-regulation.
Teach social skills.
Develop work and career-ready attitudes.
Minimize disruption, distraction, interpersonal friction, and bullying.
Improve relationships between and among students, teachers, staff, and administrators.
Hold wrong-doers accountable for the effects of their actions on others.
Help kids succeed according to standard measures, including test scores.

Restorative Justice…

Is victim-centered.
Reduces recidivism rates.
Lowers the economic cost of addressing criminalized behavior dramatically.
Reduces racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Aids reintegration of the offender.

Maintaining a healthy community is the ultimate goal. A healthy community can…

Raise resilient, curious, adventurous, and healthy kids.
Become more self-sufficient.
Resolve internal conflicts in ways that are ultimately healing.
Use the process of conflict resolution to clarify expectations.
Weather storms both from within and from outside.
And the health and success of its children are the best barometers of a community’s strength and vibrancy.

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