The time for strict zero-tolerance punitive discipline approaches in schools is over. In addition to being ineffective, traditional exclusionary discipline is often inequitable and even counterproductive. Restorative practices offer a comprehensive alternative approach that promotes a positive school climate with strong relationships at the center, where all community members feel a true sense of belonging. When harm is done or conflict occurs, restorative practices provide a differentiated framework for working with students to restore relationships, repair harm, and prevent recurrences.
The new quick-reference laminated guide Restorative Practices: An Outside-the-Box Approach to Building and Sustaining Relationships in Schools by Rufus Lott III provides an overview of restorative practices and offers a three- phase model with concrete strategies for implementing RP in the classroom:
The Connect Phase - Strategies include relationship-building circles, using affective language, developing a relationship agreement, teaching emotional awareness skills.
The Correct Phase- Strategies include restorative chats, restorative conferences, and restorative circles to collaborate with students to determine a way to right the wrong or repair the relationship, and continue with a plan to prevent future incidents based on acceptance of personal accountability.
The Consequence phase - Rather than arbitrary punishment, consequences are determined by first considering the desired outcomes are then selecting a strategy to achieve that outcome.
This compact yet comprehensive guide will help educators begin their journey toward transforming school culture through implementing restorative practices.