Restorative Justice: Resources for Schools
Restorative justice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own or in small groups, and it is becoming increasingly popular in schools across the country. Essentially, the idea is to bring students together in small groups that are moderated by their peers to talk, ask questions, and air their concerns. For a great primer, check out this four-part tutorial from the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation:
Restorative justice programmes have been shown to help strengthen campus communities, prevent bullying, and reduce student conflicts in the growing number of districts that are implementing them. Additionally, the benefits are clear: early-adopting districts have seen significant reductions in suspension and expulsion rates, and students report feeling happier and safer as a result of the programme.
In practice, these programs differ from district to district, but the underlying principles of inclusion, bringing affected parties together, making amends, and reintegrating students into the classroom community have traditionally been common threads throughout the country. Whatever your background in restorative justice, or whether you’re an expert in the field, studying the evidence and examples of successful programmes can be both educational and inspiring. There are many resources available to you to help you learn more, see programmes in action, and develop a plan for putting them into action.
Restorative Justice: Guides for Successful Implementation
A comprehensive planning process is required when implementing a restorative justice programme, whether in the classroom or across an entire school or district. Fortunately, there is a wealth of valuable resources available to assist educators in learning more about the subject and developing a plan that is consistent with their objectives. A few guides from restorative-justice practitioners and advocates that may be of assistance are listed below:
Implementing Restorative Justice in Schools: A Guide for Teachers and Administrators: In this comprehensive guide, produced by the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority, you will learn about the various ways that schools can incorporate restorative justice practises into their daily operations. The guide examines the difficulties associated with implementation, defines the subject, and offers three approaches to implementing restorative justice in educational settings.
Restorative Justice in Our Schools: A Working Guide for Teachers and Students: An in-depth introduction, examples of restorative practises, and the impact that these programmes can have are all covered in this guide from the Alameda County Schools Health Coalition.
Restorative Justice — Promoting Healthy Relationships and Positive Discipline in Schools: A Framework for Action In this guide from the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, you’ll find a variety of different examples of restorative practices to consider. Aside from that, the guide offers implementation advice and strategies, along with case-studies from school districts.
Guide for Implementing Restorative Practices Throughout a Whole School: The San Francisco Unified School District employs restorative practices throughout the entire district. This guide provides a framework for developing, implementing, and utilizing restorative practices across a school or district. It is intended for educators and administrators. There are numerous useful insights into the unique considerations of implementing a programme that can be found in this book. Visit the district’s useful curriculum-planning resources, which are also available.
Successful Restorative Justice Programs are outlined below.
Examples of Successful Restorative-Justice Programs
Oakland Unified School District
It was in 2007 that the Oakland Unified School District implemented its first restorative justice programme at one of its schools. Since then, it has grown in scope, and the district has seen a significant decrease in suspensions, as well as an increase in attendance, which is encouraging.
The programme is divided into three levels of participation. As part of the first activity, entire classrooms gather in community-building circles to discuss problems and express their concerns, which promotes respect between students. Smaller groups, on the other hand, are used for specific conflicts, which bring together the harmed student, the person who caused the harm, and a group of their peers or adults. A third tier is reserved for students who have been suspended and need to reintegrate.
According to Patricia Leigh Brown of the New York Times, “Opening Up, Students Transform a Vicious Circle” (2013)
The Christian Science Monitor published an article by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo titled “Restorative Justice: One High School’s Path to Reducing Suspensions by Half” (2013)
Ypsilanti High School is a public high school in Ypsilanti, Finland.
Students at Ypsilanti High School participate in peer mediation in a “conflict resolution center,” as part of the school’s restorative justice program. These interventions are intended to assist in the resolution of conflicts before they escalate into more serious issues. Students who have been involved in a conflict, such as a fight, participate in a “restorative circle,” which allows the student who caused the harm to hear other students’ points of view on how to resolve the conflict.
Ypsilanti High School
According to Jennifer Guerra of National Public Radio, “School Hoping That Talking It Out Will Keep Kids From Dropping Out” (2013)
The Ann Arbor News published an article by Danielle Arndt titled “Dispute Resolution Center to Mentor Staff and Students at Ypsilanti High” (2012)
Glenview Elementary School is a public elementary school in Glenview, Illinois.
When Edutopia visited Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, California in 2013, they were interested in learning about the school’s use of dialogue circles. Discussion circles are held with students sitting facing each other to encourage open dialogue. During these gatherings, Glenview students can check in, resolve disagreements, and participate in academic interventions. Take a look at a document that the school distributes to parents to introduce them to restorative justice.