Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices

Students, Teachers, Staff and Parents Working Together

Coordinator: Heather Graham, MSW, PPSC - hgraham@nhusd.k12.ca.us; 510-471-2520 x60163

Restorative Practices (RP) strengthen a positive school climate and enhance relationships withing the school community.

Restorative Practices focuses on building positive relationships and establishing a supportive environment that is fair, consistent, and democratic. RP equips staff with strategies to better manage challenging student behavior and conflict, as well as with practices that help prevent harm and conflict by creating a sense of belonging, safety, and social responsibility withing the school community.

At the core, RP is about building and restoring relationships.

The underlying principle is that relationships are important, and when an incident occurs, the focus is on the harm caused to the relationship and the subsequent repairing of that harm rather than what rule has been broken and therefore what consequence will be imposed.

A restorative approach to conflict and wrongdoing begins with asking key questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
  3. What have you thought about since?
  4. Who has been affected and how?
  5. What part are you willing to take responsibility for?
  6. What do you think needs to be done to make things right?

A restorative approach...

  • encourages student to understand the impact of their actions.
  • provides an opportunity for those harmed to share their personal experience.
  • requires students to be accountable for their actions.
  • encourages respect for all concerned and develops empathy for others.
  • views conflict as opportunities to learn through self-reflection and problem solving.

Benefits of restorative approaches in the school setting include...

  • a safer, more caring environment.
  • a more effective teaching and learning environment.
  • a greater commitment to taking the time to listen to one another.
  • teaching of social skills like healthy communication, empathy, and self-reflection.
  • a greater confidence in the staff team to work with challenging situations.
  • a reduction in bullying and other interpersonal conflicts.
  • addresses the need to belong and feel valued by peers and adults.
  • greater emphasis on responses to inappropriate behavior that seek to reconnect, rather than further disconnect young people.
  • reductions in suspensions and expulsions.

The fundamental premise of restorative practices is that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.

Restorative Practices (RP) are based on principles that emphasize the importance of positive relationships as central to building community and involve processes that restore relationships when harm has occurred. The pilot RP program in NHUSD is composed of a three-tiered model of universal/ targeted / intensive practices to promote and strengthen positive school culture, enhance pro-social relationships within the school community, and respond restoratively to conflict/harm.  

Ultimately, the RP program works to lower our rate of suspension and expulsion and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the school to prison pipeline.

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