What is Restorative Practices?

Here at City Springs, we have instituted a positive approach to discipline in addition to the Baltimore City Public Schools’ citywide discipline code. This positive approach to discipline is called Restorative Practices and is widely used as a tool to create a positive climate and schoolwide culture. We don’t believe that suspension is always the answer for behavioral issues. With Restorative Practices, teachers are able to restore relationships that have been harmed by unacceptable behavior and return back to instruction with minimal classroom learning time interrupted. There will be times when we would need parents present for the formal group meetings.

We also have Circle Time incorporated into our daily schedules. This allows a time for the students to build their social skills and to discuss and resolve any issues within the classroom as well as develop strong positive relationships with their teachers and peers. Students learn positive ways to resolve conflicts. It helps to establish the relationship between teacher and student, which is necessary to maintain an environment that is conducive to learning. It also brings students to a place where they do the right things because they want to.

Restorative Practices and Circles are structured practices led by trained adults who guide participants through a series of questions. For example, when a student is sent to the principal or the restorative room due to a disciplinary infraction, it may appear from the outside that the student is simply “spoken to” and sent back to class with no consequence. In reality, the principal and the restorative practice facilitator are using their training in handling these situations. Students are being asked restorative questions that will, over time, affect permanent change in the students’ attitude and behavior. Restorative Practices serve more as a pre-correction or strategy to change behavior. Restorative conversations are not consequences or punishments. Consequences for inappropriate behavior must still be in place. Teachers will make the expectations and consequences clear to students and parents on the first day and will consistently communicate reminders. Many times, consequences will be decided by individuals who participate in a circle.

City Springs is known for finding researched-based programs like
Restorative Practices and Circles that change schools for the better. The City Springs staff receive on-going training in Restorative Practices. The questions below serve as an example of how Restorative Practices work.

Restorative Questions

Restorative questions to respond to challenging behaviors:

  1. What happened?
  2. What were you thinking of at the time?
  3. What have you thought about since?
  4. Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
  5. What do you think you need to do to make things right?

Restorative questions to help those harmed by others’ actions:

  1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
  4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?