Teacher Tips: Restorative Practices
by Keven Fletcher
his collection of Connections articles presents a continuum of understanding around
the role and application of restorative approaches within schools. Here are five sets of
questions to assist teachers in clarifying how we might move forward.
1. It’s clear through studies and anecdotal observation that these approaches can con-
tribute significantly to our communities. The authors have highlighted impacts that
promote connection, engagement, learning, self-regulation, collective responsibility,
Teachers: To clarify our interests, we might ask ourselves, “Which three impacts associated
with restorative approaches would be of most benefit to our specific community?
2. The approaches find themselves in a period of active development. It’s been recognized
that the original concept of “restorative justice” that arose parallel to our judicial systems
doesn’t translate comfortably into our educational contexts. Thankfully, restorative prac-
tices are not a one-size-fits-all endeavor and we can now draw from an array of modi-
fied approaches in ways that better mesh with the cultures of our individual schools.
Teachers: With a variety of modified approaches at hand, we might ask ourselves, “Given our
school culture and the three impacts we’ve prioritized, which strand of restorative practice
best suits our community?”
3. The articles indicate that there is a degree of fluidity in understanding the place of re-
storative approaches within school cultures. For some, the approach addresses reac-
tive needs arising from critical incidents. For others, the approach offers a proactive
tool that provides a platform for addressing the everyday flow of tensions. For still oth-
ers, a restorative approach underscores the community’s self-concept as it becomes
the means by which it unpacks both its shortcomings and its joys, central to identity.
Teachers: To test our expectations, we might ask ourselves, “To what degree do we hope that
this will be another tool within our culture and to what degree do we hope that this will
transform our culture?”
4. Restorative approaches require more than simply following a specific recipe for
conversation. A great deal relies on those within the process. An openness to differing
understandings, a willingness to coregulate, and a degree of self-awareness can be as
essential to effective practice as technical knowledge about how to move through
a restorative conversation.
Page 40 Winter 2019