Restorative practices will help your students
When we think of restorative practices, we imagine a classroom filled with students sitting in a circle, perhaps sharing stories about the ways they made mistakes and what they learned from them. In reality, there are a wide variety of ways to implement these practices in your middle school classroom.
Restorative practices have shown to improve classroom management. Instead of punishing students, restorative practices encourage teachers to work with students to resolve conflicts. This goes beyond what others often think of as teaching — it involves listening to students and responding to their needs to improve classroom management and student learning.
When you add these practices to the learning environment, you maximize your opportunity to impact student learning positively and you play a part in making school a more enjoyable and successful experience.
Restorative practices promote a sense of belonging in a school and help cultivate a positive school culture. They help students develop empathy and a sense of responsibility for their actions.
Where appropriate, middle schools can and should provide opportunities that build on these values and build a sense of community and responsibility for the good of the school, its members, and the broader community.
Restorative practices can apply to all subject areas in the middle school classroom. The following are some examples of what restorative practices look like in the classroom:
If conflict exists between two students, the class might work together to come up with a solution.
If one student is taking up too much time in class, the teacher might ask the student to teach the class about a topic he/she is passionate about.
The teacher might ask that a student who is struggling set aside a small amount of their time for the teacher to help the student out.
Guests from the outside world, like guidance counselor or school psychologist, come to spend a couple of hours with the students asking questions and gathering insights into their lives and their struggles.
A particular student is struggling in his/her class and presents a problem to the class. The teacher addresses the problem and offers a suggestion of how the student can feel better. The class then discusses what to do next with their problem.
Teacher-parents may visit the school for one PD day and spend some time with the class. Teachers get some pointers and inspiration from the parents.
Sometimes the class gets invited to tour different projects the teachers have built in the school. Teachers are very proud of their work and the work their students have done.
When a particularly challenging issue arises in the classroom, all the students in the class gather around and discuss what they can do to help the issue. To be sure the issue is being treated respectfully, the students choose a method of restorative adjustment to solve the issue.
Incorporate restorative practices into your classroom routines and schedules
Restorative practices have positive effects on both teachers and students. Teaching is a high-stress job, and dealing with the issues children bring into the classroom or that arise in the classroom can lead to burnout. Incorporating restorative practices into your classroom routines and schedules is an important way to deal with stress and prevent burnout. These practices help students feel more connected and less isolated.
Incorporating restorative practices into your classroom management system can help students, teachers, and the school community move toward a more peaceful and calming atmosphere. Its methods can be used in every classroom, and can help to create a more positive learning environment for all involved.