At Park Elementary, we focus on behavior as a way to learn from mistakes, and we use the language of restorative justice to bring affected parties together. The purpose of restorative practices is to make amends for mistakes and harm that was caused so that the team can get to the root of the problem, which in turn reduces student conflict. Park has integrated restorative justice practices in multiple ways. The first is that entire classrooms come together in community building crew circles to talk about problems and voice their concerns, which encourages peer to peer respect and problem solving. When there is a more specific conflict, smaller groups are used. These groups involve the harmed student, the person that caused or is causing the harm, an adult facilitator and possibly a group of peers or adults to discuss the problem. The intended outcome is to identify how to repair the harm caused and to learn from mistakes.
When there is a large conflict, restorative justice is used as a means of reintegration following a suspension. Since implementation of RJ (Restorative Justice) practices at Park Elementary, we have reduced the amount of repeat suspensions and expulsions and students are reporting that they feel heard and feel safer after engaging in an RJ circle. We currently have a facilitator at Park who is coaching students and staff in using RJ practices.