RESTORATIVE PRACTICES are a positive, disruptive force to realizing greater equity in education and stronger relationships. When implemented holistically, Restorative Practices help develop a culture where everyone’s voice is heard and valued and relationships become the cornerstone of the community. Instead of top-down punitive practices that further erode relationships, Restorative Practices put the emphasis on relationships, collaborative problem solving and collective responsibility.
The central goal of the Transforming School Culture Through Restorative Practices is a culture shift to one of equity and shared responsibility. In order for this shift to occur, youth and adults must be at the table in a true partnership. Often restorative practices are implemented by adults on behalf of students. In contrast, in this graduate course students will sit side-by side as full partners with adults as they craft, implement and assess their RP action plans over the course of the year. This yearlong professional learning community will support middle and high schools at all phases of implementation and growth.
Every member of a school community has a sphere of influence. This sphere contains an interwoven network of relationships which can influence decisions, policy and practices. The outcomes ultimately depend on the strength of the relationships between students, teachers, administrators, families and community members. There is an inherent right of every child to be treated as fully human and to intentionally learn to refuse any less-than-human treatment. Still, it is controversial because the dominant education national model advocates for control through punishments and rewards—sorting, ranking, competition, and the treatment of young people as objects to be acted upon rather than human beings who themselves act in and on the world. Restorative practices are a positive, disruptive force to realizing greater equity in education and stronger relationships. They provide greater balance and strength to the youth-adult partnerships in learning, greater opportunity for building empathy, bridging differences, and strengthening more just, joyful, and sustainable communities. Restorative practices are truly a form of participatory democracy in that they build and heal communities, and serve as a means to work through, resolve, and transform conflicts.
Research has proven that Restorative Practices:
- Improve school culture and climate for youth and adults
- Ensure all students are productive contributing members of the community
- Improve academic outcomes and close the achievement gap by keep youth in a learning environment
- Reduce educational services lost due to in and out of school suspensions and expulsion by keeping students in the classroom and learning
- Significantly reduce absenteeism
- Enrich current pedagogical practices with more strategies for student centered decision-making
- Work in collaboration with any existing Responsive Classroom/Developmental Design, mindfulness and personalized learning practices. Restorative Practices are a paradigm shift, not a program or initiative.
Adult learners enroll in a three-credit graduate course from Southern New Hampshire University or receive professional development hours toward recertification. This professional learning community experience includes:
- 4 full day sessions throughout the 2018-2019 school year
- 1 full day Circle Keeper Training
- 3 optional field visits for extended learning opportunities
We will sustain a threaded community throughout the year by means of Google classroom, reflecting on relevant readings, resources and experiences, and sharing field-based experiences. See course syllabus for more details.
These sessions are designed to build on our understanding of Restorative Practices and will include community partners (ex. Community Justice Center experts) to share their expertise in specific areas of RP. The learning community will also take part in a full day Circle Keeper training. Throughout the year, three optional site visits to schools and community resources will be offered to deepen our practice and learning.
Contact Lindsey Halman
Any school at any phase in the implementation of Restorative Practices. High school students can create an independent study and receive proficiency-based high school credits for their efforts. Adult team members can choose to enroll in a 3 graduate credit course or receive professional development hours toward recertification. Expectations for adult and youth participants remain the same regardless of the source of credit. Teams can consist of 2-4 adults and up to 6 youth partners.