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Frequently Asked Questions 2024-07-09T17:08:37-06:00

To answer some of your questions as quickly as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the ones most frequently asked by those learning about restorative justice practices. Be sure to read more throughout this website, and please feel free to contact us for more information.

What are Restorative Justice Practices?

Restorative practices focus on relationships. When harm occurs, all members of the school community work together to build, maintain, and, when necessary, repair the relationships between all of the involved individuals. The individuals responsible for the harm take responsibility to repair the harm caused by their actions.

What role do teachers and administrators play in restorative practices?

The emphasis must shift from traditional, punitive discipline to a system where transformation and growth are the main goals.

Teachers hold weekly connection “circles” with students, use relationship-building statements daily, have conversations with their students instead of sending them out of class, and work to build and maintain a culture of trust in their classrooms.

Administrators and support staff take part in team meetings to set goals and assess progress, hold mediations and conferences when serious infractions involving two or more students occur, support teachers in their use of restorative practices, and hold staff “circles” to help build trust among their school community and staff.

Do we have to give up/stop implementing the existing alternative disciplinary practices we are currently using at our school (e.g., peer mediation)?

You can use restorative practices alongside alternative disciplinary practices such as peer mediation and PBIS.

With increasing demands on our staff, we’re not sure we have the time to take on a new program. How much more time would it take on a daily and regular basis?

We suggest teachers hold connection circles once a week for a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes each. Middle schools would, ideally, hold them 2–3 times per week. Additionally, teachers have occasional five to 10-minute information conversations with their students about discipline or classroom issues. Teachers also practice relationship building such as using students’ names, getting to know the lives outside of the classroom, and using restorative language when correcting student behavior, which don’t take any time away from the classroom but which may take some time for them to learn. Problem-solving circles, when needed, may take 30–50 minutes.

How long will it take to achieve the benefits of RJP in our classrooms?

The benefits of restorative practices will often be apparent within two to three months of sincere, consistent application.

Would we still use “traditional” disciplinary practice?

Yes, schools would still use traditional disciplinary practices if needed. When they are used in conjunction with restorative practices, suspension days often decrease, with the intention of self-reflection and self-regulation rather than punishment.

Do students receive consequences for their behavior?

Yes, consequences are an integral part of the discipline as students take responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Can we use the RJP model approach and change it up a bit to make it work better for us?

Yes, RJP is flexible in its implementation as long as you adhere to the philosophy. It’s important to maintain ongoing training and coaching to preserve the core philosophies and make it work for you.

How will parents/guardians and other community members be involved?

It depends on you and how much you want to engage them. Engaging your community could be key to making it work and successfully maintaining the program in your schools. We’ll work with you to design a plan for you.

Will restorative practices impact academic achievement?

Yes. It’s happened over and over. Teachers who embrace the RJP philosophy and method of interacting with students find that their students’ test scores increase in the first year.

What is the basis for implementing restorative practices in school?

Research shows:

  • a reduction in suspensions;
  • a reduction in expulsions;
  • a reduction in negative behaviors/incidents;
  • improvements in perception of school safety; and
  • academic improvements.

Relationships are strengthened, students engage productively with their teachers, and teachers share their power in the classroom with their students, allowing students to practice critical thinking and emotional expression, all which lead to increased test scores and academic achievement. Teachers who embrace this philosophy and method of interacting with students see their test scores increase within the first year.

How will you help us make sure this program works and isn’t one that just comes and goes?

We’ll work with you to help develop a program that lasts over time. It takes patience, but the results are comprehensive and long-lasting.

Page last updated July 9, 2024