What are Restorative Practices in schools?
“Restorative Practices in Schools is philosophically based in fostering relationships, strengthening understanding, repairing harm, and building strong communities. Identifying and addressing the needs and harms that occur when there is conflict in the school community by cultivating empathy and modeling conflict resolution skills serves students and adults alike. Restorative Practices, when practiced with fidelity, create a safe space for connection and dialogue. When facilitated by trained practitioners, Restorative Practices lead to a more equitable and inclusive environment for students, staff, families, and community members. The variety of practices or models used in applying this philosophy have been developed and honed by indigenous peoples and religious groups for centuries. They have been further developed and implemented around the world by academics, governments, schools, communities and practitioners for decades. Restorative Practices in Schools assist in building a school culture of relationship and respect. At the core, Restorative Practices are built on what are known as the 5 R’s: Relationship, Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Reintegration.” from Restorative Justice Colorado
Benefits of Restorative Approaches in the School Setting
- A safer, more caring environment.
- A more effective teaching and learning environment.
- A greater commitment by everyone to taking the time to listen to one another.
- A reduction in bullying and other interpersonal conflicts.
- A greater awareness of the importance of connectedness to young people. The need to belong and feel valued by peers and significant adults.
- Greater emphasis on responses to inappropriate behavior that seeks to reconnect and not further disconnect young people.
- Reductions in fixed term and permanent suspensions and expulsions.
- A greater confidence in the staff team to deal with challenging situations.
The 5 R’s of Restorative Practice by Beverly B. Title, Ph.D.
- Relationship: Restorative practices recognize that when a wrong occurs, individuals and communities feel violated. It is the damage to these relationships that is primarily important and is the central focus of what restorative practices seek to address. When relationships are strong, people experience more fulfilling lives, and communities become places where we want to live. Relationships may be mended through the willingness to be accountable for one’s actions and to make repair of harms done.
- Respect: Respect is the key ingredient that holds the container for all restorative practices, and it is what keeps the process safe. It is essential that all persons in a restorative process be treated with respect. One way we acknowledge respect is that participation in a restorative process is always optional. Every person is expected to show respect for others and for themselves. Restorative processes require deep listening, done in a way that does not presume we know what the speaker is going to say, but that we honor the importance of the other’s point of view. Our focus for listening is to understand other people, so, even if we disagree with their thinking, we can be respectful and try hard to comprehend how it seems to them.
- Responsibility: For restorative practices to be effective, personal responsibility must be taken. Each person needs to take responsibility for any harm that was caused to another, admitting any wrong that was done, even if it was unintentional. Taking responsibility also includes a willingness to give an explanation of the harmful behavior. All persons in the circle are asked to search deeply in their hearts and minds to discover if there is any part of the matter at hand for which they have some responsibility. Everyone needs to be willing to accept responsibility for his or her own behavior and the impacts it has on other individuals and the community as a whole.
- Repair: The restorative approach is to repair the harm that was done, and the underlying causes, to the fullest extent possible, recognizing that harm may extend beyond anyone’s capacity for repair. Once the persons involved have accepted responsibility for their behavior and they have heard in the restorative process about how others were harmed by their action, they are expected to make repair. This allows us to set aside thoughts of revenge and punishment. It is essential that all stakeholders in the event be involved in identifying the harm and having a voice in how it will be repaired. It is through taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and making repair that persons may regain or strengthen their self-respect and the respect of others.
- Reintegration: For the restorative process to be complete, persons who may have felt alienated must be accepted into the community. Reintegration is realized when all persons have put the hurt behind them and moved into a new role in the community. This new role recognizes their worth and the importance of the new learning that has been accomplished. The person having shown him or herself to be an honorable person through acceptance of responsibility and repair of harm has transformed the hurtful act. At the reintegration point, all parties are back in right relationship with each other and with the community. This reintegration process is the final step in achieving wholeness.
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In 2013, the Roaring Fork Schools hosted 16 community engagement sessions with over 960 parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members. These conversations illuminated the need for, among other things, improved character skills. The district adopted a new mission statement that included its commitment to supporting the development of students’ character skills: Roaring Fork schools will ensure that every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills, and character to thrive in a changing world. Over the last five years, the district has worked to actualize its mission through various programs and practices.
Read more about the following programs and practices:
2018 Visioning Process
In early November, we hosted 16 community visioning meetings and heard from over 400 students, staff, parents, and community members about where we're on track and where our community would like to see us go over the next five years. We appreciate everyone who participated in the process and truly value the insights and perspectives that were shared.
We are just starting to analyze what we heard last week. This wordle captures some of the big discussion themes. Overall, we heard that meeting participants felt their voices were heard through the process (4.6 average rating on a 5 point scale) and that the meetings were a valuable use of their time (4.7 average rating). Putting on these events was a team effort, and we’re grateful to all the hard work our school and staff (including family liaisons, school leaders, facilities, food services, technology, and transportation teams) put into making the event a success.
We believe every voice is important in this process. Because many were unable to attend a meeting to share their feedback and ideas about our schools and students, we are inviting anyone who hasn’t yet participated in this process to do so now through an online survey (English or Spanish). You’ll have an opportunity to learn what we’ve been working on since we last received direction from the community in 2013 and then provide your feedback to inform our direction going forward.
After we have collected more information over the next month, we will then share out a more formal summary. Thank you for your interest in education, our schools, and the future of our children.
2013 Visioning Process
We asked these same questions during the last visioning process in 2013, and we heard from almost 1,000 community members. Based on that feedback, we developed our current mission and core commitments and drafted a strategic plan. The district has been rigorous in pursuing the goals established by the community. Many of the initiatives undertaken five years ago have become routinized through the annual strategic planning process and regular operations of the district, including:
- use of a common instructional model;
- crew and Habits of a Scholar;
- differentiated supports for different student needs and learning challenges;
- more robust and embedded professional development;
- a commitment to instructional and leadership coaching;
- teacher and staff engagement in planning and decision-making;
- one-to-one laptops;
- aligning district and school budgets to strategic planning;
- increased and improved staff recruitment efforts; and
- higher quality and more systematic communications.
The Family Services Department connects students with non-academic resources for support.
Family Services Director
Family Support Supervisor
Homeless and Child Welfare Education Liaison
The Homeless and Child Welfare Education Liaison works to increase the identification, enrollment, stability, and school success of children and youth experiencing homelessness and to ensure that students in foster care are achieving academically through course completion, advancing to the next grade, accruing credits toward graduation, and on a path to postsecondary success.
Colorado Migrant Education Program
The Migrant Education Program may serve children from birth to the age of 21 who are eligible for a free public education under State Law. In order to qualify for services, children must have moved within the past three years, across state or school district lines with or to join a migrant parent or guardian who is seeking to obtain qualifying temporary or seasonal employment in agriculture, fishing, or dairy.
Family Resource Center's Family Liaisons
The Family Liaison in every school works with families to help students access non-academic support services so they can attend school ready to learn. Liaisons identify students in need and help them to secure community resources to meet their needs. Health insurance, utility assistance, food, counseling and vision exams are just a few examples. Liaisons also help to enroll new students, to translate and interpret, plan and lead parent nights. Family Services Department is a proud member of the Family Resource Center Association. Please see the link to learn more.
Colorado Community Response
Referrals for this program come directly from The Department of Human Services. A Family Support Specialist works closely with school staff and community partners to provide comprehensive, voluntary services for families reported, but not involved with child welfare. The Program works to increase families' protective capacities by addressing the link between poverty and maltreatment and connecting families to vital services. See link for the CCR Evaluation Brief.
Prevention Specialists are based at middle schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Basalt. Their focus is to implement a substance abuse prevention program that is embedded in the schools and to reduce barriers to treatment and counseling services provided by community-based organizations. See this substance abuse parent guide for additional information.
Parent education offered in each community (Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs) for parents of young children that strives to strengthen families protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and social-emotional competence in children. This school year we will be partnering with Kathy Hegberg and facilitating her FocusedFamilies curriculum.
Donations are tax deductible and may be mailed to:
Family Resource Center of the Roaring Fork Schools
400 Sopris Avenue
Carbondale, CO 81623
Or click below to donate via PayPal.
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