Restorative Practices at LFP
Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices can be summed up in one word: relationship. The basic idea is that you can more effectively change behavior by focusing on repairing the relationship that has been damaged. The consequence itself is to sit down with the parties involved and explore what happened to damage the relationship, how it affected the parties involved, and what can be done to repair it.
This contrasts with a punitive approach, where the consequence would be, for example, to miss recess or to put your head down on the desk. In Restorative Justice, the consequence is the talk itself: having to sit down and face the harm that you have created, and to repair the relationship you have damaged. This is often harder, and it also makes the perpetrator feel a part of the proceedings instead of the recipient of a punishment.
Here are some restorative questions that each LFP staff member has on their badge:
Who has been affected by what you did?
How have they been affected?
What do you need to do to make things right?
Instead of asking "what did you do?!" or "why did you do that?!" or "what were you thinking?!"," asking "what happened" gives the child the chance to tell their story. When children are used to being asked about what happened, instead of accused, they will be more likely to want to problem-solve.
Take a look at the "Tale of Two Schools" graphic to the left. By using restorative practices, we are making sure that students own the process of discipline. This will help them learn how to face mistakes, repair relationships, and be part of a community. This stands in contrast to the traditional model of punishment for behavior, which is a top-down process and one that can alienate students.