Restorative Practices at Monroe
Restorative practices - formal and informal - are intended to strengthen the school community by building relationships and repairing harm when it occurs. Peacemaking Circles are used initially to build relationships. The Circle is a powerful tool for creating a space where all participants feel safe to share their stories and to listen to the stories of others - to grow in the ability to see the common threads of everyone’s lives and to appreciate the differences among people. As these relationships are strengthened so are the behaviors of respect, caring, cooperation, and accountability - the building of a community where students feel they belong. Circles begin with engaging and safe activities. As relationships are developed Circles can be used for different purposes - support, academic work, problem solving etc. The stronger the relationships become, the less likely wrongdoing will occur and the more likely the wrongdoing can be repaired if it does occur. Community Conferencing, another restorative process, is used to respond to victim needs, to hold the offender accountable, to repair harm to the greatest extent possible, and to reintegrate the offender into the school community.
As students engage in restorative practices they have a “space” where they can practice being their best selves - using positive behaviors that build individual character and strengthen the group, classroom and school. A number of secondary schools implementing restorative practices are reporting increased positive relationships and much lower rates of disciplinary incidences and recidivism (Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Practices, Sharon Lewis, IIRP, Bethlehem, Pa., 2009)