Head of House: Kuring-gai
The fundamental premise of restorative practices is that people are… more cooperative, [more] productive, and more likely to make positive changes [in behaviour] when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.
As educators, we aim to create a learning environment that is supportive and caring. Such an environment entails many factors; however, a highly important one is the quality of relationships that are developed and maintained throughout the school community. There is a strong correlation between profound learning and effective teacher-student relationships.
Social and emotional learning educates young people on understanding and managing their emotions, exhibiting empathy, establishing and maintaining positive relationships and making responsible decisions. Students are encouraged to recognise that feelings are caused by needs being met or not met, not the actions of others. We want students to look at their inner world more so they can learn emotional regulation.
Restorative Practice is an evidence-based approach that assists teachers, students and parents to build, maintain and restore relationships. It aims to build capacity for behaviour self-regulation. The principles of RP are to consider the past, the present and the future rather than focussing on the past and assigning blame.
A restorative mindset holds that the best way to deal with a problem…is to bring those involved, and affected, together…to discuss what has happened and how people have been affected…to help people take responsibility for their misdeeds and bad decisions, and decide on a way that the harm might be repaired (Hansberry,2016)
Part of our job as educators is to validate our students’ struggles and give them the tools to work through them. The fine line between bullying and what is actually just a broken relationship, combined with our young peoples’ inexperience in dealing with these highly emotional moments, is a huge challenge at times. In these moments, the limbic system of the brain responds, making it difficult for students to find the language needed to clearly articulate their emotions and their needs. The ability to participate in restorative discussions is something that we can teach young people to do.
“It is useful to think of restorative practice as a pedagogy rather than a bag of tricks that we pull out to use with some students in some situations (Hansberry, 2016)
Restorative Practice respectfully challenges students to consider
- What has happened?
- Who has been affected? In what way?
- What needs to happen to resolve the issue and move forward
The aim is to help students understand the impact of their choices on themselves and others. This discernment serves to encourage students to learn from their mistakes, resolve problems, facilitate a repair process and maintain healthy relationships.
Restorative Practices incorporate the principal of Fair Process, which does not set out to achieve compromises that accommodate every individual’s opinion, need, or interest. Fair process has three key components:
- Every individual is given opportunity to tell their story.
- The reasoning behind a decision is explained.
- Everyone understands what is expected of them and knows the consequences if expectations are not met.
Forward-thinking and inclusive, restorative practice provides a pathway to building trust among students and staff, thereby increasing engagement and the passion for learning in a comfortable and supportive environment.
Mrs Beth Nairn
Head of Kuring-gai House