RESTORATIVE JUSTICE APPROACH
Outdoor Adventure Program
Higher Ground school-based services use a restorative justice approach to solving problems and building community in the classroom, student to student and teacher to student. Our goal is to assist teachers in allowing students to go through the process without severe harm to the class or facilitate problem-solving and conflict between teacher/s and student/s k-12 helping to avoid suspension. Our problem-solving lessons teach students and the adults who work with them how to transform thinking so that it moves from a suspension/zero tolerance model, which oftentimes has severe consequences for students. According to Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review authors J. Comer and A. Poussaint overly harsh punishment via suspension and expulsion “either destroys a child’s spirit, has no effect at all, worsens the problem, or makes it more difficult for you to work with the child in school-he or she no longer trust you”.
Restorative Justice in the classroom is Higher Ground’s specialty. Higher Ground works with teachers to repair harm when they are the initiator and visa versa. Helping teachers and students identify who has been harmed and why, what the needs of both parties are in maintaining a productive learning environment for everyone, and who is responsible for putting things right. Our goal is to help restore and maintain emotional equity and right order in the classroom using restorative justice particles.
What is RESTORATIVE APPROACH?
The Restorative Approach is based on the belief that the people best placed to resolve a conflict or a problem are the people directly involved, and that imposed solutions are less effective, less educative, and possibly less likely to be honored. In order to engage in a restorative approach to conflict and challenging behavior people need certain attitudes and skills. Skill-based training can develop both restorative skills and attitudes.
It can help participants to identify a variety of applications of these skills to meet the needs of the whole school community. The ultimate aim of the training and the project is to build a strong, mutually respectful, safe and inclusive school community in which everyone feels valued and heard.
How can this approach be beneficial in a School Setting?
The potential advantages of restorative approaches in the school setting include:
A safer, more caring environment A more effective teaching and learning environment
A greater commitment by everyone to taking the time to listen to one another
A reduction in bullying and other interpersonal conflicts
Greater awareness of the importance of connectedness to young people. The need to belong and feel valued by peers and significant adults
Greater emphasis on responses to inappropriate behavior that seek to reconnect, and not further disconnect, young people
Reductions in fixed-term and permanent exclusions
Greater confidence in the staff team to deal with challenging situations
An increased belief in the ability of young people to take responsibility for their choices, and more people giving them opportunities to do so.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE APPROACH
A CLOSER LOOK
inspired by the philosophy and practices of restorative justice, which puts repairing harm done to relationships and people over and above the need for assigning blame and dispensing punishment.
include active listening, facilitating dialogue and problem-solving, listening to and expressing emotion and empowering others to take ownership of problems.
create an ethos of respect, inclusion, accountability and taking responsibility, commitment to relationships, impartiality, being non-judgmental, collaboration, empowerment and emotional articulacy.
Processes and Practices
include interventions when harm has happened, such as restorative inquiry, mediation, and community conferencing. However there are also processes and practices that help to prevent harm and conflict occurring and which build a sense of belonging, safety and social responsibility. These include Circle Time and Restorative Pedagogy
"What I liked about the Daytime services was how they provided support to students who had additional emotional and behavioral strains, and provided teachings that would support them in the classroom during instructional time. One of our goals is multiple tiered systems of support; in hopes for zero suspensions. And with Higher Ground, we were able to keep identified students from being suspended since they have systems and strategies in place to correct their behavior."
Principal, New Highland Academy