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Can we call ourselves a Restorative School yet? Report on an Innovations Project in Restorative Practices

This report will discuss the impact of an Innovative Restorative Practices professional development of three years, 2009-2011, introduced to a mid-decile, urban, multi-cultural, New Zealand secondary school. There are a number of reasons that a school might choose to commit to a restorative model and at the heart of this professional development (PD) was a belief that implementing Restorative Practices (RP) would have a positive impact on the well-being of teachers and students. In 2008 the school successfully won funding for a three year professional development and the project began in 2009. One of the challenges of Restorative Practices is the adaptation of the practices so that they can be utilised on a daily basis by teachers to deal with issues that arise each day, that impact both teaching and learning. The school developed a model of classroom meetings and taught teachers to use a discursive process of inquiry. This process and these skills were used to challenge poor learning behaviours by students and difficulties in relational dynamics in classrooms. This report analyses data that is collected as a matter of course by the school to consider whether or not the introduction and implementation of Restorative Practices has had an impact. It discusses evidence that this adaptation of RP for daily use has made any difference to the school and explores the implementation of Restorative Practices by considering various data: stand down, suspensions and exclusions, referrals from class and the student management records that record student behaviour. It also explores the self reported impact of the professional development on participants. The data show decreased involvement of Senior Leaders in various behaviour situations and increased contribution from the deans, form teachers and classroom teachers in the management of student behaviour. This suggests that teachers/staff are more able to de-escalate behaviour situations and that behaviour management is better aligned with staff roles and/ or expectations. Feedback from participant teachers suggest that learning the new skills and the regular discussion meetings have positively impacted their classroom management and their mental well being. The teachers’ self-reported sense of competency in using the skills and processes introduced/ taught to participants is analysed and it is apparent that some of the skills are more readily utilised than others. It appears that the use of a discursive process, and the regular opportunity to discuss issues of learning and teaching, have provided teachers with an opportunity to better understand both themselves and their students, enhancing their professional identity. Restorative practices at this school have been utilised in both a proactive and reactive way. It seems that the practices have much potential as an everyday tool, rather than just a reactive device. This report sought to answer the question “Is the school able to call itself restorative yet?” but argues that perhaps the concern should be “Are we restorative enough?”
Type of thesis
Kaveney, K. M. (2012). Can we call ourselves a Restorative School yet? Report on an Innovations Project in Restorative Practices (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6613
University of Waikato
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