With Restorative Practice no one is disposable in the school (or any) community. We recognise the inherent worth of individuals and the essential ties that bind each of us to each other: in the classroom, in the school, in society and in the broader world.
With Restorative Practice, we create safe, supportive spaces in our schools where we learn to bravely engage in and learn from crucial, honest, sometimes difficult, conversations. Restorative Practice builds capacity to live in, understand and embrace the real world with all its contradictions and complexities. And it builds capacity to work together to change aspects of the real world that are harmful and unjust.
Restorative Practice brings out our best selves. We build trusting, supportive classroom communities where we find effective ways to respectfully hold ourselves and one another accountable. It is also about accountability to the Indigenous roots of the approach, as a crucial reminder to ensure practices address all forms of social injustice.
Restorative Practice is about learning to listen deeply to one another and to truly see those around us. It is about sharing our own stories and perspectives and attempting to understand the perspectives of others. When we - adults and students - practice mutual respect through our communication, empathy and trust is built and enacted daily. This enables our classrooms to become robust learning communities where we can engage, risk and develop.
Restorative Practice ensures that classrooms are vibrant, dynamic, evolving learning communities built on meaningful relationships between students, teachers and adminstrators. We learn through relationship to value, understand, practice, and build crucial life skills - of working together, supporting and critically challenging one another, and fostering each other’s individual development and the well being of the community as a whole. Restorative pedagogy connects students with themselves and each other and, with that, to their curricula and the world.
Restorative Practice in schools is not a behaviour management program. A restorative classroom is a microcosm of society where we recognise - like the larger society of which it is part of - that all our interactions are mediated through relationships. We strive for healthy relationships of mutual respect, support, trust to foster a community where participants can be their whole selves, where learning is natural, where everyone grows. Although behaviour change is a likely outcome of people feeling respected and understood and trusting the processes in place to deal with conflict and harm, behaviour change is not the goal.
Restorative Practice is not a soft approach to classroom management. Restorative Practice in schools challenges simplistic retributive thinking that confuses enforcing discipline, consequences and punishment with being ‘tough’. Restorative teachers recognise the shortcomings of traditional disciplinary models of education and instead work through their relationships with their students - and facilitating those of students with each other - to hold individuals accountable, to develop personal and collective responsibility, and identify and tackle the actual, underlying issues that students (teachers, and administrators) live with.
Restorative Practice opens space in the classrooms for curiosity and questioning, which opens doorways into understanding and addressing the complexities, contradictions, nuance and depth that form the realities inside and outside the classroom. Restorative Practice steers away from simple, standardised, conformist and riskless educational doctrines. Classrooms where students learn to trust each other and their teachers and where they know they are respected, supported and safe, are spaces where students learn to critically question the going-ons in their classroom, the substance of their curriculum and the realities and inequalities of the wider world. By definition Restorative Practice embraces complexity and the teaching opportunities it provides.
Restorative Practice is not about controlling students. Rather than imposing discipline through one-way relationships of dominance and control in the classroom, we develop and nurture the relationships in classrooms to build trust and create spaces of active engagement and mutual support where students, teachers and administrators work together to help each other to grow personally, socially and academically. In Restorative classrooms, discipline is an educative process where all involved (students, teachers, administrators) are supported to recognise their mistakes, be accountable for their actions and learn for the next time. It is not meant to ‘fix’ students but to encourage meaningful communal- and self-reflection.
It is hard work for students, teachers and adminstrators alike to build the respectful, mutually supportive and robust relationships that are the centre of Restorative classrooms. Those hard yards are risky, they ask us to offer one another attention, respect and trust. Those yards require rigorous thinking, effort and flexibility. The reward is a robust learning classrooms where students flourish as knowledgeable learners, critical thinkers, and engaged citizens.
Restorative Practice is not a technique or a process to be trotted out for a one-off response to an incident of harm. The use of restorative processes as a way to deal with conflict or harm are most potent when embedded in a broader relational ecology within the school, rooted in social justice. The way that harm is dealt with must cohere with how all aspects of schooling and relationships are approached. If that happens, RP becomes a way of being in (and out of) school and we can all reap its lifelong benefits.
“Facilitating learning communities that nurture the capacity of people to engage with one another and their environment in a manner that supports and respects the inherent dignity and worth of all."
"In philosophy and practice, restorative justice asks what is necessary to live collectively and as our ‘best selves’.”
“We believe restorative justice is a philosophy that can create space for us to dismantle systems of inequality.”
“Restorative Practice is a way of thinking and being, focused on creating safe spaces for real conversations that deepen relationships and create stronger, more connected communities.”
"RJ is fundamentally about building, maintaining and repairing relationships."
"In many ways, the Circle process challenges normative discussions—that is, White, upper-class ways of communicating - so that quieter and marginalized voices may be given greater valence and opportunity to participate. ... But dialogue based on a Circle process aims to transform and revolutionize thinking, communicating, and, ultimately, relationships."
“While the terms may vary, the best way to identify a restorative process is to look for the essential elements, the common core: relationship-building practices and interventions that seek to repair and strengthen those relationships”