What are restorative practices?
Restorative practices use a relationship building approach to deal with conflict. Rather than adults solving conflict issues for a student, restorative practices focus on working with the student to find solutions that will work for both the school and the student.
Relationship building circles are the cornerstone of restorative practices. Students can find common ground with other students in their classrooms and develop empathy for what others may be going through. Without developing relationships, other aspects of restorative practices cannot take place, because there needs to be a relationship to repair.
Why use restorative practices?
One benefit can be decreasing reliance on discipline forms such as out-of-school and in-school suspension. When students are out of class, they miss instruction which sets them behind academically. This can result in lower graduation rates, lower grades, and lower post-secondary outcomes.
Another benefit is building relationships impacts the entire school. When students have built relationships with staff and other students, they are more likely to have a productive learning environment. Establishing relationships in a classroom helps all students feel welcome and supports students in embracing the differences between them.
What do restorative practices look like in KSD?
Schools are at different stages implementing restorative practices; some have been exploring restorative practices for a number of years, whereas other schools have just begun.
All middle schools received the Best Starts for Kids grant, which has allowed them greater opportunity to explore restorative practices and receive trainings. A team of participants from each middle school participated in restorative practices training this past summer.
Each middle school came up with plans using relationship building circles to strengthen the culture and relationships with students in their schools. Throughout the school year, the team has additional hours of training through the Best Starts for Kids grant in which experts in restorative practice will help the middle schools achieve their goals.