Relational Management and Restorative Practices

Key Principles

*The people involved in a conflict / disagreement are the best ones to work together to resolve it.

*Fair process means that everyone has a voice and is heard *We need to restore 2 aspects:

- Repair the harm done by the action or word

- Repair the relationships

* Parties agree on an appropriate consequence should the damaging action / behaviour occur again.

“It is not small people who ask for forgiveness. It is large hearted, magnanimous courageous people who are ready to say what are some of the most difficult words in any language: ‘I am sorry’. But once uttered, they open the way to a new opportunity, the possibility of a new beginning, the chance to start again having learnt a lesson from the past”.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Restorative Practices - A Brief Explanation

Restorative Practice originated in the judicial system where it was known as Restorative Justice. It developed as a way of dealing with the inappropriate behaviours of offenders in a manner that required them to take responsibility for their behaviour by acknowledging what had happened & the people who had been affected by their behaviour, & focusing on repairing the harm that had been done. Restorative Justice encompasses a shift in thinking from blame & punishment to addressing the impact on others, harm done & restoration of relationships with the goal of the offender taking responsibility for their behaviour & reintegrating successfully back into the community.

In schools Restorative Practice is an evolving area & multifaceted in nature. It is more than an intervention to deal with inappropriate behaviour & promotes building respectful relationships as a foundation for teaching & learning.

Restorative Practice in schools provides a focus on developing positive relationships between all members of the school community, opportunities for people to take responsibility for their behaviour & learning.

This requires that teachers actively create the space where students can experience situations that develop their emotional & social capacity in order to support & assist them in taking responsibility for their behaviour & learning.

Restorative Practice is not a program but rather a way of being. It requires teachers to be explicit about their pedagogy & practices & deal with the myriad of programs & expectations in a consistent way.

Restorative Practices assists teachers, students and parents to build, maintain and restore relationships.

Restorative Practices will help build capacity to enable students to self regulate behaviour and contributes to the improvement of learning outcomes.

One strategy proving to be currently very effective in helping achieve this is the development and adoption of a school mantra.

This mantra is known by students, school staff and parents. It can become a core belief to guide behaviour.

Below is an example of a mantra for students, staff and parents:

We agree to be safe respectful learners who build maintain and restore relationships

When challenging behavior:

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking of at the time?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what you have done?
  • In what way have they been affected?
  • What do you think you need to do to make things right?
  • To help those affected:

  • What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  • What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

  • Three key Questions

    What happened?

    Who or what was hurt?

    How can we fix it?

    Restorative questions are a tool used to process an incident of wrongdoing or conflict. When a situation has occurred, the person(s) who has created the conflict takes some time and answers questions such as the following: What happened? What were you thinking about at the time of the incident? What are your thoughts now? Who was impacted by your actions, and how? How will you repair the harm? The questions focus on the incident, and allow the person to think about how his/her actions affected others. It encourages empathy, accountability, expression of feelings and thoughts, and problem solving. Restorative questions are also answered by those who were impacted by the incident, to help them process their feelings and determine what they need to make things right.

    If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.

    If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach.

    If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we…..teach?………punish?

    Why can’t we finish the last sentence as automatically as we do the others?

    Punishment does not teach thoughtfulness.

    Social/emotional literacy is very important.

    Some children’s register of language is at casual or intimate and we operate at consultative or formal at school.

    Students are exposed to different zones. Expectations can be very different depending on where the students are. What is acceptable at home may not be accepted at school.

    It is not about the rules that have been broken but about the harm that has been done.

    Shame will be triggered when the relationship matters.

    The degree of harm helps decide how formal you need to be in the conferencing.