R ES TORATI V E S C HO O L D I S C I PL I N E
formal restorative group conference circle,
all rely upon a very specific type of com-
munication and interaction to accomplish
equally specific goals.
What and how does restoration teach? The
short answer is that it teaches us how to be
in relationship with each other when there
is conflict, disagreement, destructive inter-
action, or trauma. As a process it organizes
a conversation in such a way that we can talk
openly about what’s happening, how we feel,
what we need. It requires us to put a plan in
place to meet those needs. It shows us how ac-
countability and empathy can work together.
Generally speaking, all restorative commu-
nication has five distinct goals:
1. Establish connection with empathy to
2. Create a safe dialogue space for ex-
pressing and acknowledging feelings
Last year an 8th grade teacher where we
implemented the whole-school approach
shared with me how she used the restor-
ative process to guide a class discussion
about the current crisis of immigration.
After taking her class through the process
over several days, she asked her class “What
does restoration look like?” Her students
created a restorative agreement that in-
cluded numerous restorative actions. First
on that list was “We need to stop calling
them immigrants, and start referring to
them as refugees.” l
3. Facilitate a shared understanding of
what has happened, or is happening.
4. Discover the underlying thinking,
reasons, issues, and potential unmet
needs compelling the challenging be-
5. Co-create a plan of action with the stu-
dent (or others) to meet those needs
with a measurable agreement to follow
through and affect change.
Dr. Will Bledsoe is the founder of Restorative Way, a leading US restorative practice organization.
Since designing and implementing one of the nation’s first university restorative justice programs
at the University of Colorado, Dr. Bledsoe has taken restorative practices to a wider audience by
establishing them as the primary methodology for conflict resolution. He is a highly regarded
conflict mediator, trainer, and consultant with extensive experience in the design and implemen-
tation of trauma-responsive restorative programming in a number of different industry sectors
including education (primary, secondary, and tertiary), correctional, and corporate. He is a keen
fly fisherman so dedicated to sustainability that he puts everything he catches back in the river.
You can contact Will at email@example.com