Strategies that build on open, respectful communication to reduce conflict and repair harm.

Positive relationships are a big part of healthy school environments. When all members of a school community value and respect one another, students can have the confidence to express themselves, share their ideas, and explore their interests. This is a key part of our focus on "student wholeness" as part of our blueprint for success.

What students and parents will see

A school that uses restorative practices incorporates relationship building and healthy communication between all members of the school community throughout the day. Depending on whether you're at an elementary, middle, or high school, you might see

  • Better communication among students as well as between students and staff

  • Students coming together for discussions led by a peer or a teacher (usually called a "circle"), giving group members an opportunity to get to know one another and build a sense of community

  • Classroom lessons that let students use their voice and work in groups

  • Response to negative behavior that focuses on how the people involved were affected, instead of the rules that were broken

A restorative practices example

Denise, an 8th-grade student, was caught spreading rumors about a classmate, Tammy. In a school using traditional disciplinary measures, Denise may be excluded from school activities and staff may meet with her parents to discuss the behavior.

With restorative practices, staff members talk with Tammy to learn how she would like the situation to be addressed. They then work with Denise and Tammy to come up with a plan that repairs the damage done to Tammy and helps Denise understand the harm that her actions caused. Much of the process involves helping Tammy and Denise communicate their thoughts respectfully and productively.

Restorative practices districtwide

A number of our schools have been using restorative practices for a few years and have seen positive change in relationships and school climate. Because restorative practices work, and because City Schools is committed to providing staff with opportunities to grow as professionals who successfully support students, the district has partnered with the Open Society Institute to make sure every staff member learns how to use restorative practices over the next five years. The goal is for every school to use these strategies regularly, so that every student has what he or she needs to succeed.