Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 30

R E STOR AT IVE PRAC TICE S IN EL EM ENTARY S C H O O L Continued from page 27 been thinking about since? Who do you think was affected? What do you need to do to make things right? (White, 2012). Many schools look into restorative practices as a way of meet- ing their behavioral needs through tier II in- terventions, but they realize that those tier II interventions will be meaningless without the tier I connection and community build- ing. Students who do not feel connected to their community are not motivated to repair any harm they cause. Schools that have im- plemented restorative practices realize “the significance of interconnected relationships” (Evans, 2016, p. 6). The earlier the brains of children with devel- opmental trauma begin to heal, the more likely it is that their brains will be able to fully heal. We can help these children con- nect through restorative practices like circles and restorative communication. Restorative practices also benefit children who have not experienced trauma by helping them to connect with those who have, and nurturing them to become more accepting people. Most who have experienced developmental trauma have not learned how to empathize. By connecting with people in the commu- nity, children can learn that connection is not a threat, but rather a means of survival. “...our attachment bonds are our greatest protection against threat,” when it comes to survival (van der Kolk, 2014, p. 212). As hu- mans, our brains feel less threatened when there is someone nearby who is a safety net. In order to help children who have experi- enced trauma, especially developmental trauma, their neural pathways need to be Page 28 Winter 2019 “The most important aspect of restorative practices when it comes to building relation- ships is that the connections cannot be broken based on actions. There must be an unconditional love within a connected community.” rewired, so we must connect with them in repetitive, small, low-risk ways. Community building restorative circles are a natural place for these low-risk connections to occur. One facilitation tool I use to help create a low- risk environment is to project the question rounds, which serves to decrease student anxiety about having to remember the ques- tions and to increase their ability to listen to each other. The most important aspect of restorative practices when it comes to building rela- tionships is that the connections cannot be broken based on actions. There must be an unconditional love within a connected community. People who have experienced trauma need to have adults in their lives who are willing to build a relationship with them. Often times, children who have expe- rienced trauma are looking for adults to re- act in a way that is reflective of the trauma they experienced because that is what they know to be true in relationships. It is essen- CSEE Connections