Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 12

R ESTORAT IVE SCHO O L DISC I P L I NE Continued from page 9 own thinking, choices, and emotions. As a result, the pedagogical and social-emotional developmental value of restorative interac- tion and communication is not developed. Second, restorative justice and/or disci- pline can still be coercive and “feel like punishment.” This happens when too much emphasis is placed on what a student did, and what he/she needs to do to “make things right.” Reparative actions such as after-school study halls, school community service, or making restitution/amends can become implicitly predetermined sanc- tions set forth by the school and/or facilita- tors. There is also an inherent risk of sub- jecting students to the biases of individuals in power. The interaction and discussion with the student about why they did what they did is more important than the outcome called “the reparative contract.” Challenge #2: Training Though this is changing, the majority of trainings conducted for schools by restor- ative justice programs still provide only ru- dimentary restorative justice conference fa- cilitation skills and scripts designed to resolve criminal violations. Again, the central focus is on impact and repair. Basic training does not equip educators with the nuanced interaction and commu- nication skills (e.g. language, listening skills, and trauma-responsive communication) to engage with challenging behavior that (a) Page 10 Winter 2019 happens in the moment, (b) is consistently happening, and (c) is not serious enough to warrant a “formal discipline” response. While the very basic “4 Step” restorative justice process is important to learn and understand, restorative interaction is more flexible. It’s designed to address the unique and often subtle social-emotional develop- mental needs of students that emerge on a day-to-day basis and in-the-moment con- flicts or disruptions. Challenge #3: Inconsistency and Disorganization Among many reasons why schools strug- gle to implement restorative practices in a consistent and meaningful way is that they don’t take a systematic “whole-school” ap- proach. Most schools attempt to add vari- ous restorative practices to their existing discipline methods. This results in a super- ficial and inconsistent implementation of restorative practices. Restorative communi- cation is not embedded in the day-to-day conversations about conflict. There are several limitations with this patchwork approach. • The burden is left to individual teach- ers to “do restorative justice” in their classrooms. • The school’s application of the restor- ative response to misconduct is incon- sistent, reactive vs. proactive, formu- laic/static, and superficial. CSEE Connections