Bringing the concept of Restorative Practice to schools
Daily schools and teachers are faced with problems that distract them from their primary goal of teaching. Those problems include,
- late to class
- disruptive behaviour
- failure to complete tasks (in class and home work)
- students failing to bring required materials to class
- rudeness, insolence and abusive language to teachers and others
- bullying and harassment
- parental complaints following incidents involving their child
- problems in the staff room as a result of perceived inadequate management responses
Principals and Teachers will have their own way of dealing with these problems which if not successful in the class will usually require the student to be removed to the Principal’s office. What occurs there may have an impact in the staff room or in the home depending upon the nature of the incident. What is clear is that authoritarian/adversarial approaches will produce negative effects and in all likelihood inflame the situation in the longer term.
Recent trends suggest that in some instances civil litigation may occur.
If a school adopts restorative practices and these are practiced consistently across the school and that includes all staff, not just teachers, then there will be clarity to students of the boundaries and expectations that will govern behaviour whist at school. Studies have shown there will be a reduction in problem behaviours and suspension rates.
Use of restorative practices in the class room will empower students to talk about problem behaviours which will alert teachers and schools to often covert behaviours which if not detected may in our present society lead to litigation.