Abraham Lincoln Elementary is partnering with the Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice to engage in a multiyear paradigm shift. Restorative Practices is not a program, but a philosophical overlay that:
- emphasizes relationships and community
- focuses on the harm done (rather than rule/law broken)
- gives voice to the person(s) harmed
- engages and values all voices and stakeholders
- seeks direct accountability (with high level of support) and
- aligns systems, policies, and practices with restorative values and lens
First, we are implementing Community Building Circles. Each classroom is engaging in circles multiple times a week to build positive relationships. Students share their feelings and ideas on various topics. These relationships support each student in feeling connected to our school community and their class. This leads to increased accountability to others as well as fosters social and emotional competencies. This preventative practice will be our focus in year one of implementation.
As community is built, we will transition to Responsive Circles. These circles are held when harm has occurred. The stakeholders in a situation have an opportunity to voice their feelings. The harmer and the harmed have the opportunity to have their needs be heard. Restorative Justice values include respect, accountability, inclusion, engagement, empowerment, honesty, flexibility, safety, collaboration, and connection.
Our staff, as a whole, has participated in 6 hours of professional development around this topic. Our Restorative Practices Implementation Team (Paula Costanzo, Kelly Dempsey, Jim Stickrod, Tammie Skinner, and Megan Young) attended an additional 4-day training. They have the responsibility to make these principles and values operational.
Families can support Restorative Practices at home. Consider holding community-building circles around your dinner table. Ask your child to teach you how to run the circle. S/he can When siblings have a conflict, pose them the question “How are you going to make this right.”
We highly recommend this video from San Francisco Unified School District. It explains Restorative Practices really well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXeWrOZcax0
Additional Resources to Explore: