Restorative Practices is a way of building community and responding to wrongdoing that emphasizes righting wrongs and rebuilding relationships. A few principles sustain this work:
- Relationships matter. Restorative practices encompass all of the proactive relationship and community building it takes to make this work take root. Restorative justice is how we address harm. In fact, relationships and community are at the heart of every school and organization.
- Wrongdoing is an opportunity. We acknowledge that harm and wrongdoing are opportunities to learn and it is key to give those who have done harm an opportunity to right those wrong. Children often have underlying skill deficits that lead them into misbehavior. This work allows us to peel back the layers and get to these needs so that we can address them.
- Involves the voices of all who are involved. We bring together those who are in conflict and empower them to collaborate to solve their own problems. We discuss issues democratically, even when the people involved are leaders or teachers.
- Accountability is not the same as punishment. Accountability comes from understanding the true harm of what you have done and understanding what you can do differently, working to make things right and allowing for real change and growth.
We teach schools and organizations to build relationships and community (especially through proactive circles), lead restorative chats (where participants address one another in informal ways oriented toward fixing their own issues), lead responsive circles for full group dialog about issues facing the whole group, and employ restorative conferences which bring together all parties where issues of serious harm have occurred.
We also teach restorative justice, which refers to the response when there has been harm, but use the terminology “restorative practices” as a word that encompasses both the proactive and the responsive work needed to keep a community supported and accountable to one another.
- It is a proven way to interrupt the school to prison pipeline.
- It gives voice to marginalized individuals.
- It helps make our spaces more positive, productive, and safe.
- It shows us how to create authentic communication and community.
- It works!