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Using restorative practices to create a positive school culture

Restorative practices have proven to be an effective tool for creating a positive social - emotional environment within schools that implement these practices with fidelity. Restorative practices, give voice and agency to all school stakeholders. They help create a community of: inclusion, empathy, engagement, safety, respect, and accountability, thereby establishing a school culture and climate that supports growth for everyone.

So, what are restorative practices?

Learning requires risk taking.In order for that to happen, it is crucial that students feel safe and respected within their school community. Restorative practices help Inspire Academy create an environment where students learn how to communicate and resolve conflicts effectively. Behavioral and inter-personal issues are dealt with quickly and deeply, reducing the need for punitive discipline measures (Kidde & Alfred, 2011; Tyler, 2006).

Morrison, Thorsborne, and Blood (2005) illustrate the application of restorative practices—from prevention to intense intervention—using a whole-school approach. The framework begins with establishing school-wide prevention practices, upon which subsequent interventions rest.

School-wide Practices- Reaffirming relationships through developing social and emotional skills

o Identify common values and guidelines.

o Promote and strengthen sense of belonging and ownership.

o Develop social-emotional understanding and skills; build healthy relationships.

Managing Targeted Difficulties- Repairing relationships

o Prevent harm.

o Resolve differences with restorative intention.

o Build social-emotional capacity.

Intense Interventions- Rebuilding relationships

o Focus on accountability.

o Organize resources to address behavioral and academic concern.

o 1:1 support and successful reintegration for youth in crisis.

Restorative practices aim to promote a culture of empathy from which to build a school that everyone is happy to attend.