Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 10

Restorative School Discipline: It’s About Engagement, Not Enforcement By William A. Bledsoe, Ph.D. Restorative Way “Students do well if they can, not because they’re forced to.” 1 I n the last 10 to 15 years schools have begun to pursue restorative approaches to stu- dent conduct as a way to build safe and connected school communities. The restorative approach interprets disruptive behavior as an opportunity for deeper engagement and problem solving with the student. Rather than trying to control behavior through coercion, the restorative approach emphasizes collaboration with the student to help them: • Understand and take responsibility for the impact of their actions on themselves and others • Explore the precedent thinking, motivations, and unmet needs underlying their actions • Recognize the importance of treating themselves and others with respect and consideration • Repair any harm and make better choices moving forward. Studies indicate that restorative approaches can lead to decreases in disruptive behavior in the classroom, decreases in incidents of harassment and bullying, lower rates of formal disciplinary measures such as suspension and expulsion, and increases in pro-social norms and academic performance. 2 1. Quinn, Kerri (2016). Personal conversation 2. Gonzales, T. “Keeping Kids in School: Restorative Justice, Punitive Discipline, and the School to Prison Pipeline.” Journal of Law and Education, vol. 41, no. 2, 2012, pp. 281-335. Page 8 Winter 2019 CSEE Connections