Tag Archives: restorative practice

Restorative Reflection

29 May

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In my work this week I have been trying to get my head around restorative and relational practices. I have been thinking what makes effective practice and how we can apply this in my own environment. The question I am posing then on mountain2surf is just what does creating a Restorative Culture within a school or other community look like?

Positive relationships form the basis for any healthy community. For a Restorative Culture to develop, it is essential that community- and relationship-building be intentional. Relationships of authentic trust between adults and youth, and within both staff and student cohorts, are the foundation of the connections that will be restored through the use of RJ practices. We must first form these relationships, then, in times of trouble, there is something to restore. So building good relationships is key.

Reflection is something I believe we do not do enough of. It is essential to a restorative culture. Prayer in Catholic school provides an ideal opportunity for this. When students “act out”, do we examine our own contribution to the situation? What feelings and beliefs do we bring to the circumstances? In our busy and challenging position as educators, have we really done all we can to meet an individual student’s needs or is there something else we could try? Out of our best intentions, have we given some students so much slack that, without realizing it, we have set the bar too low and inadvertently sent them a message that they are not capable? This type of deep self-reflection and willingness to examine one’s own feelings, biases, pre-conceived notions, and actions is not easy, but it is one of the essential keys to establishing a Restorative Culture in schools.

But where should this self reflection take place. Now for self-reflection to take place and to build positive relationships, a safe space must be provided. Safe space encompasses not just physical well-being but also emotional and intellectual safety. Are behavioral and academic expectations clear? Are standards upheld consistently? Is the aftermath of making a mistake free from shame? If I take personal responsibility for my actions will I be met with compassion and a willingness to listen, rather than a quickness to blame and punish? Does the community embrace and validate different experiences, beliefs, and perspectives and allow for them to be expressed?

 

Just some initial thoughts.

 

Restorative Circles Part Two

17 Nov

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Here are some more thoughts on some PD I attended this month on RP. Restorative circles generally have three phases. You can explain these phases and what happens in each of them to students. Teaching restorative practices, skills and concepts using this curriculum will support each of these phases; it will increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

First phase—before the circle: The main tasks in the first phase include:

Figuring out who was most affected and inviting them to participate in the dialogue · Making sure that everyone understands what to expect.Sportively listening to each person—especially those who are affected in harmful ways—to help them begin the process of telling their story.Managing the logistics of setting up a meeting. Sometimes the first phase happens very quickly, on-the-spot, as in impromptu circles that are called immediately when a conflict arises. Many circumstances involve taking more time, sometimes meeting individually with each person involved.

Second phase—the circle dialogue: This is the actual circle, where the restorative questions are used to help people come to understanding and make things right.

Use the restorative questions. Ask each person in turn. Facilitate and prompt as necessary.Avoid going into counseling mode. Also avoid solving the problem for the participants. Allow those who are affected to define the issues and develop their own plan for making things right. When preparing students for the circle dialogue, clarify that it is not like a courtroom drama. Nobody is on trial. Even if students’s stories about what happened differ and seem to contradict each I thank all of you, students and parents alike, who worked hard to establish understanding and agreements, and address the hurtful and damaging behaviors that took place.

 Third phase—after the circle: The main focus here is on accountability and support. Accountability means following up on the agreements and keeping track of their status. This may also include letting everyone who was in the circle know when they have been completed. Support means providing resources to help people complete their agreements. Sometimes completing agreements challenges the skills and resources of students. For example, writing an effective letter of apology may be a stretch for a student’s literacy skills. The person(s) who are monitoring plan completion will need to be sensitive to these challenges and help to arrange for tutoring or other support as needed

 

 

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