Restorative Practices (RP) are an evidence-based set of skills that help develop and sustain strong and happy organizations and communities by actively developing good relationships, preventing the escalation of conflict and handling conflict and wrongdoing in a creative and healthy manner. Many schools, both primary and post-primary, now engage in what is known as restorative practice, a philosophy and skillset that focusses on building a sense of community and managing conflict by modelling positive behaviour.
Restorative practice can be employed in any relationship, and in any setting, to help people empathise with others, reflect on solutions and work out routes to them. In schools, it can support pupil teacher relationships, behaviour management and conflict resolution.
SCHOOL COMPLETION PROGRAMME DUBLIN 1 & 7 AND RESTORATIVE PRACTICE
At the School Completion Programme we strive to strive to be restorative in all of the work that we do with young people. This school year we have also been working with a selection of schools in our cluster as they implement restorative practice and supporting their journey towards becoming restorative schools.
Our SCP staff team have completed training in restorative practice, with some of our staff also going on to train in RP facilitation skills. Our schools are currently training in restorative practice through the Connect RP online learning platform, which is run by the wonderful Michelle Stowe. You can visit the Connect RP site by clicking here. You can find out more about restorative practice in schools, and the work that Michelle Stowe does in the video below.
Relationships matter for effective teaching and learning – all the evidence on how the brain works suggests that the safer and happier a person is the more receptive they are to new ideas. Stress and fear shrinks the brain and reduces the ability to process new information. When young people have positive connections with their fellow students and their teachers, they feel safer. Relationships matter when things go wrong especially; learning how to accept responsibility, experiencing being held accountable for one’s own choices, and learning how to put things right with those who share the problem, give young people invaluable skills for life. Isolation and bullying can only thrive in environments where there is no care and connection, where there is no sense of community and belonging.
The social discipline window is a concept with broad applications in many settings. It describes four basic approaches to maintaining social norms and behavioral boundaries. The four are represented as different combinations of high or low control and high or low support. The restorative domain combines both high control and high support and is characterized by doing things with people, rather than to them or for them.
The fundamental unifying hypothesis of restorative practices is that “human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.”
The difference between a happy and unhappy relationship is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. There is a very specific ratio that builds a positive and lasting relationship. That "magic ratio" is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy relationship has five (or more) positive interactions.
One of the practical benefits of restorative practice is that it offers an explicit language, such as the restorative questions, to breathe life into the values so that they are values in action. These are especially helpful in times of challenge when we can easily armor up, disconnect from our best selves and lose our values in power struggles. These questions provide a tool to facilitate restorative conversations.
Giraffes are known as restorative animals because of they have the biggest heart of all land mammals and the longest neck which allows them to see everyone's perspective. Giraffe's are often used as a mascot for teaching students about restorative practice.
Below are some of the acronyms used to teach students about the values of restorative practice in a way that is easy to remember.