What are Restorative Practices?
Restorative practices support the overarching goal of strengthening school climate by building community, repairing relationships and creating just and equitable learning environments for all students. In a restorative school, relationships are fostered with the same emphasis as academic skills. Central to restorative practices are the beliefs that all people are worthy and relational, and that we must build, maintain and repair relationships with both adults and students.
Practically speaking, restorative practices are formal and informal practices used to build healthy relationships and to create community in school to develop a positive school climate, prevent bullying and harm and help repair harm. Specifically the practices include but are not limited to:
- Empathetic Communication: listening and speaking using the language of feeling, of empathy
- Restorative Conversations, with one or two people or a small group
- To build relationships, to teach, to meet, to problem-solve
- To repair harm, to provide on-going support
- Conferences to repair harm
Addressing Harm in a Constructive Way
By using restorative practices in the school, people get to know one another and work to form good relationships with each other–elements that are key to creating community and preventing bullying and harm. While not all harm can be prevented, the relationships developed using restorative methods create a positive climate and lay the foundation for addressing bullying and harm in a constructive way.
Restorative practices shift away from punishment to social engagement. When rules are violated or harm happens, a restorative response brings together the person who did the harm, the person who was harmed and anyone affected by the harm. Together the community affected by the harm work to set things right: to support the person harmed and the person who did the harm, to help make amends for the harm, to give back to the community and to make a plan so that harm doesn’t happen again. Accountability is not to rules but to relationships.