Ask Dr. Blank: Do you think restorative practices are effective in the classroom?

Restorative practices (RP) are aimed at helping school personnel understand what leads students to be destructive to themselves and others and to use this understanding to help achieve productive outcomes. It is a welcome move from the typical punishment and condemnation with which acting out behavior has been met. In 2014, the U.S. Federal Government issued new guidelines recommending that schools revise their discipline policies to move away from zero tolerance policies, which exclude large numbers of students with suspensions and expulsions, often for minor infractions. Instead the guidelines recommend the use of methods such as restorative practices, which foster positive school climates.

there is evidence that it can be effective. Classrooms with a high level of
restorative practices implementation had fewer disciplinary referrals for
defiance and misconduct compared to classrooms with a low level of
implementation However,
research conducted in Scotland indicated that RP had most impact when “there
was visible commitment, enthusiasm and modelling by the school management team
and where the school had invested in significant staff development.”

It seems obvious but it is still worth stating—for RP to be effective adequate funding, training and follow-through are essential. In this day of relentless budget cutting, this initiative—like so many positive initiatives –is in jeopardy.

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