Restorative Practices Rather Than Punishment-Based Approaches

Due to concerns with high suspension rates, loss of instructional time, and data showing that traditional school discipline techniques are exacerbating the dropout rate and inequity in our schools, many schools are turning to restorative practices. 

If you are making the shift to restorative practices, see if your work matches up to a school that has reduced suspensions and helped students resolve problems and learn from their mistakes.  In their article, “After Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words” Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Dominique Smith describe the following four principles used at their school that resulted in a successful restorative approach:

1.    Make sure you have relationships to restore.

2.    Use impromptu conversation to maintain relationships and allow student voice.

3.   Repair harm when it’s done.

4.   Develop re-entry plans.

·       Rehearse with the student

·       Identify a lifeline, an adult that can serve as a buffer

·       Schedule shore follow-ups.

·       Close the loop with adults.  (Fisher, Frey, & Smith, 2016, pp. 55-58)

Not surprisingly, these principles rely on relationships and communication, two things we know are important in many aspects of life.  If you are working on restorative practices and would like more detail about how Fisher, Frey, and Smith use these principles in action, see their full article.   

Fisher, D, Frey, N, Smith, D. (2016).  After Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful WordsEducational Leadership:  The  Principalship.  (74)3, 54-58.