In this article, I would like to share my views on restorative practice in schools. 4 ways Restorative Discipline can Improve Equity in Schools.
Restorative discipline has been shown to improve the well-being of students, but how does it also enhance equity in schools?
What exactly does Restorative Discipline look like in practice?
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You can learn the answers to these questions by reading this article about Restorative Discipline and improving equity in schools.
Let’s move forward and understand it.
What Is Restorative Discipline?
Restorative discipline has been described as an approach to behavior management based on repairing harm, maintaining order, building caring relationships, and teaching social responsibility.
It also involves bringing together community members to discuss problems and develop solutions.
In many ways, restorative discipline is about correcting harmful behaviors without criminalizing them.
Instead of kicking students out of school for fighting or bullying other students, for example, schools can hold a stimulating conference that includes everyone involved with an incident—students had—to discuss its root causes.Click here to tweet Click To Tweet
It’s not enough to get kids back on track after they misbehave; schools need to help children find their way before things go off track at all.
And restorative practices effectively mitigate inequity in discipline rates by race and class.
For instance, in two separate studies involving over 635,000 students across 92 diverse middle and high schools between 2000-2010, researchers found that black boys were suspended at disproportionately higher rates than white boys.
However, these disparities narrowed significantly when schools implemented restorative practices such as student councils (11% reduction) and conflict resolution circles (17% reduction).
Clearly, there are still improvements regarding racial equity in discipline rates in American public schools.Click here to tweet Click To Tweet
But giving teachers more tools for handling disruptive behavior without resorting to harsh punishments like suspensions—as well as holding students accountable for their actions rather than ignoring them—is a step toward reducing disciplinary disparities by race.
Video Credit- IIRP Graduate School
Understanding Restorative Practices in Schools
Teachers, students, and school administrators may not immediately associate restorative discipline with their schools.
But a growing number of educators have begun to adopt restorative practices into their curricula.
These methods stem from restorative justice, a concept that advocates non-traditional, community-focused solutions to wrongdoings rather than traditional punitive measures such as arrest or suspension.
These practices include gathering all parties involved in an altercation together and holding them accountable for their actions while setting goals to achieve moving forward (e.g., mediation versus isolation).
To understand how restorative discipline can improve equity in school environments, we need to look at how punishment systems promote inequality within educational institutions.
When students receive detention, they miss class time and are less likely to learn material they should be learning.Click here to tweet Click To Tweet
Disruptive students who receive detention may resent other classmates, creating conflict both in class and on campus more generally.
As government programs seek strategies for reducing disciplinary problems at school sites, many schools — predominantly low-income minority public schools — are now promoting positive discipline approaches such as restorative practice policies instead.
A Restorative Approach For Equitable Education
Recently, schools have been looking for non-punitive ways to handle student discipline. By implementing a restorative approach, schools can create a more positive environment.
Restorative practices help school communities focus on caring for one another, fostering self-awareness, sharing power and responsibility, and learning how to repair harm when necessary.
While not all approaches are appropriate for every situation or school culture, schools may want to start with small steps—examining practices like journaling and restorative circles—to see what works well at their school.
Students need a safe learning environment where they are engaged, feel valued as members of their community, have some sense of belonging at school, and know that they can learn by being supported rather than punished.
As public education continues to struggle, hopefully, schools will continue to implement restorative approaches that foster equity and inclusivity instead of practicing strategies based on exclusion.
All students deserve a chance to succeed regardless of skin color, socioeconomic status, or other differences.
Schools should provide opportunities to see themselves reflected in their work and classroom relationships.
They should also foster spaces where all students feel heard, respected, and cared for regardless of who they are or what mistakes they’ve made before entering an institution’s walls.
Creating equitable environments will be crucial if our country wants young people to thrive once leaving high school.
The Benefits Of Restorative Practice
We’ve all had those moments when we catch ourselves snapping at someone else.
Maybe a sibling called you out for being late; perhaps your boss was upset with a report you had given to him, or perhaps you were just having a bad day.
The feeling isn’t pleasant, is it? In fact, no one likes to be on either end of interaction like that.
But what if there was a way to turn such interactions into something more positive?
What if disciplining students could be done in such a way that everyone involved felt better afterward, rather than worse?
That’s precisely what restorative practices aim to do.
They promote empathy among all parties involved by giving students a voice within their learning communities.
When used as part of classroom management strategies, these techniques ensure that educators restore peace and order without resorting to punitive measures.
For example, think about what would happen if your sibling accused you of being irresponsible (or insensitive) for making them wait for you.
You might not understand why you are being blamed—after all, it’s not like Mom told you to be home right after school!
This kind of exchange can quickly escalate into name-calling between siblings—and a simple apology never seems to suffice!
However, once each party has spoken up about how they are feeling (without fear of repercussion), both parties feel heard—and often will make amends between themselves before moving forward with other tasks or responsibilities.
Video Credit- TEDx Talks
4 Ways Restorative Discipline Can Improve Equity In Schools
Equity can be a significant concern in schools already experiencing low achievement levels.
When teachers are held to high expectations, but their students are not, discipline issues will emerge as teachers cannot correctly educate those students who do not meet basic standards.
Rather than resorting to harsh discipline or excluding these students from school entirely, educators should look into restorative practices for solving disciplinary problems.
Here Are 4 Ways Restorative Discipline Supports Equity-
It Addresses Trauma- Kids raised under challenging circumstances often act out during class because they aren’t getting what they need at home.
Addressing root cause means students get a chance to heal from trauma to focus on their studies instead of taking out negative emotions on classmates or teachers.
In one study of students experiencing daily trauma, 93% reported feeling more optimistic about their education after undergoing a restorative justice program.
They Feel Heard- Students who think understood make better choices in class; giving them agency over how their transgressions will be dealt with gives them peace of mind that keeps distractions to a minimum.
They Learn Conflict Resolution Skills– Without proper guidance, kids learn misbehavior as a normal response to stressful situations.
Restorative practices give them tools to work through conflict peacefully instead of using anger or intimidation.
They Develop Empathy– Giving kids direct experience with conflict resolution teaches them essential life lessons and encourages self-reflection and growth.
When used correctly, these exercises promote respect between peers while increasing academic performance across all subject areas.
It’s no secret that discipline in schools is out of control.
Rates of suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment, tasering, caning… well-publicized cases have revealed how standard these practices are among educators trying to maintain order.
Many schools struggle with providing a safe environment for students as teachers and administrators try to rein in wayward students.
But what if there was a better way? What if discipline could be an opportunity to make things right?
To correct behavior through meaningful engagement that ultimately benefits everyone involved?
It turns out there are: restorative discipline practices.
In this blog, we have discussed how restorative discipline supports equity.
Restorative equity—what it means for your child, student, or even you—and why you should demand its implementation across schools today.
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