WHAT IS RESTORATIVE PRACTICES?
From the IIRP website, www.iirp.org
Restorative practices is an emerging field of study that enables people to restore and build community in an increasingly disconnected world.
The emerging field of “restorative practices” offers a common thread to tie together theory, research and practice in seemingly disparate fields, such as education, counseling, criminal justice, social work and organizational management.
In education, circles and groups provide opportunities for students to share their feelings, build relationships and problem-solve, and when there is wrongdoing, to play an active role in addressing the wrong and making things right (Riestenberg, 2002).
The restorative domain combines both high control and high support and is characterized by doing things with people, rather than to them or for them.
The three principles of fair process are:
Engagement — involving individuals in decisions that affect them by listening to their views and genuinely taking their opinions into account;
Explanation — explaining the reasoning behind a decision to everyone who has been involved or who is affected by it;
Expectation clarity — making sure that everyone clearly understands a decision and what is expected of them in the future.
On a restorative practices continuum, the informal practices include affective statements that communicate people’s feelings, as well as affective questions that cause people to reflect on how their behavior has affected others.
• What happened? What did you do? (Helps create ownership)
• What were you thinking at the time (Helps reflect on more than impulsive actions)?
• What have you thought about since (Helps reflect on the choices/consequences that have happened as a result)?
• Who/how many have been affected by what you have done (Helps build empathy)?
• What do you need to do to make things right (Plan of action to move forward)
Impromptu restorative conferences, groups and circles are somewhat more structured but do not require the elaborate preparation needed for formal conferences.
Restorative circles are happening in your child’s classroom. They are based in Restorative Practices and they provide students with opportunities to share their feelings, ideas and experiences in order to establish relationships and social norms on a non-crisis basis.
Circle-go-rounds are a great way to foster a sense of community among students in a classroom. They are proactive and bring great discussion and ideas to the forefront. Circle-go-rounds help build character traits in the areas of kindness, empathy, respect, responsibility, trust and cooperation. Once students feel comfortable using circles they can be used as a tool to solve problems in the classroom or among a smaller group of children.
Moving from left to right on the continuum, as restorative processes become more formal they involve more people, require more planning and time, and are more structured and complete. Although a formal restorative process might have dramatic impact, informal practices have a cumulative impact because they are part of everyday life.