Taking a Proactive Approach
At Pittsburgh Public Schools, we start by setting expectations for students, then coupling these expectations with support and communications. Teachers and staff in all PPS schools have been formally trained in Restorative Practices techniques in order to build a positive school culture. They participate in monthly meetings to discuss how Restorative Practices is working in their school.
Throughout the school day, students will experience many things that are part of Restorative Practices. They might sit in a circle and discuss positive behaviors that would benefit the entire class or school community. Or they will hear teachers and staff members using specific language that is an essential part of Restorative Practices. For example, they will hear:
• Affective Statements: These are statements that express feelings about someone’s behavior. For example, instead of reprimanding a child for being late, a teacher may say something like, “I’m concerned that you’re late for class again because I must stop and re-teach a lesson that the class has already heard. That is not fair to you and everyone else.”
• Restorative Questions: These are specific questions that invite the student to explain his or her actions. A teacher might say, “What were you thinking when you acted in that way?
• Ways to make things right: A teacher might ask a student to think about how his or her actions affected others, and what might be done to make things right.
How Can Parents Get Involved?
You can follow the Restorative Practices model at home in the following ways:
• Make sure your children understand what behavior is expected of them.
• Develop strategies for dealing with conflict in the family.
• Engage in dialogue with your children, using restorative questions such as “How do you think your behavior affected the rest of the family,” etc.
• Guide your children to make amends and work with them to create happy and healthy family relationships.