“We don’t leave the
acquisition of reading or
mathematics skills to chance; we engage in explicit, systematic, intentional
instruction to ensure that learners progress academically.  


So why wouldn’t we do the same to ensure that
students progress socially & emotionally?”

Building relationships and trust in schools helps to build strong academic and social learners that are ready to thrive, laugh, play, love, and learn. Restorative practices is founded in building a school culture of relationship, respect, & trust and treating students with dignity, respect, and empathy so they can function in a positive learning environment where they are able to grow, learn, and succeed.  Utilizing restorative practices allows all persons involved to strengthen their understanding of themselves and each other, repair harm, and build stronger communities.  Restorative practices is a way of viewing behavior as a form of communication and a need to build stronger relationships.

The 5Rs of Restorative Practice


When a wrong occurs, individuals and communities feel violated, and relationships are damaged.  In order to mend relationships, we hold each other accountable for actions, and work to repair harm. When relationships are strong, people experience more fulfilling lives, and communities become places where we want to live.


Respect is the essential ingredient for restorative practices, and keeps the process safe for all people involved.  Participation in the restorative process is always optional, and every person is expected to show respect for others and for themselves. Listening to understand each other, even when we disagree, shows respect and our attempt to understand the situation from multiple perspectives. 


Everyone involved is asked to take personal responsibility for any harm that was caused to another person, admitting any wrong that was done, even if it was unintentional. Each person needs to be willing to accept responsibility for his or her own behavior and the impact it has on other individuals and the community as a whole.


In order to repair harm, all stakeholders in the event must be involved in identifying the harm and having a voice in how it will be repaired - recognizing that harm may extend beyond anyone’s capacity for repair. This allows us to set aside thoughts of revenge and punishment.  By taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and making repair, each person involved may regain or strengthen their self-respect and the respect of others. 


For the restorative process to be complete, persons who may have felt alienated must be accepted into the community. Reintegration is realized when all persons have put the hurt behind them and moved into a new role in the community. This new role recognizes their worth and the importance of the new learning that has been accomplished. As the final step in the restorative process, all parties are back in right relationship with each other and with the community.




“I felt (EMOTION) when (BEHAVIOR)

Example: I felt sad when you told me you didn’t care about your homework because of how hard we have worked together for you to do well in school.


Allow children to examine themselves and the roles they create for themselves.  

When we ask children identity-building questions that contain labels (I wonder if, as a writer, you can...”), we provide them with an identity and challenge them to extend themselves.

Restorative identity labels separate the child from their actions.  

Example: “That’s not the Julie I know” - communicates that you see the individual behind the action.


Agency statements provide children with the confidence to act. 

Example:  I can tell you studied hard for your math test.

That hard work is really paying off for you!


Agency statements signify that effort

brings results.

“Students are going to misbehave as they learn and grow - it’s how WE respond to their behavior that matters.”

- Better Than Carrots or Sticks


The aim of education is to reveal an attainable image of self that is lovelier than that manifested in his or her present acts.

- Nel Noddings

In the restorative approach, when relationships become damaged, everyone involved is encouraged to engage in reflective
conversations that help the person who caused harm to understand how their actions impacted others, and provide them with
opportunities to make amends.

By modeling and encouraging responsible behavior, discouraging harmful behavior, and working with students to take responsibility when harm is caused, restorative discipline supports learning communities.  Schools that view conflict as teachable moments and opportunities for growth establish environments and cultures that value relationship-building and community building, which we know are pertinent to establishing trust, safety, and academic success.