Restorative School Practices
Since 2006, RJP has offered trainings statewide to school educators and administrators on how to most effectively address wrongdoing by building a community with a restorative practice that provides alternatives to traditional punitive, zero-tolerance-based discipline. RJP also offers direct services, facilitating restorative conferencing circles for schools, often on a fee-for-service basis. Since 2005, RJP has trained more than 1,800 teachers, staff and administrators in restorative practices, impacting 10,635 students in over 200 schools.
The restorative approach has repeatedly demonstrated its power—to replace detention and suspension, reduce expulsion, help students stay connected and engaged in school, and provide a safer and more productive school climate—with the crucial end result of significantly increased classroom success. A philosophy that sees relationships as central to the healthy school climate necessary to support learning, restorative practice is supported by a growing number of brain research studies on the importance of creating strong bonds between students and adults, as a proactive prevention for reducing conflict in schools.
Restorative discipline practices promote empathy, self-understanding and a strong sense of accountability, in which students learn from their mistakes, understand the impact of their actions on others, and have opportunities to repair the harm they have caused through misbehavior. In a restorative discipline system, educators find ways to keep misbehaving students within the school community whenever possible, rather than isolating them or removing them from schools. The restorative approach helps to build and maintain student empowerment, self-worth and connectedness to adults, which enhances both student learning outcomes and community cohesion. The use of Restorative School Practices helps create a restorative school climate with the goal of keeping young people connected and engaged in school.
Lack of engagement is a critical risk factor in the school-to-prison pipeline that can be countered with restorative school practices. In Maine and nationwide, schools that implement restorative school practices are seeing the effectiveness of this approach with significant decreases in discipline measures, resulting in a marked decrease in the numbers of office referrals, suspensions and expulsions.