Policies on student behavior need overhaul

In the wake of the John Hopkins report that exposed some of the behavioral challenges that affect Providence public schools, there were inevitably other educators across the state who thought to themselves: “This happens in my classroom, too.” In fact, this school-life struggle between youths and adults permeates classrooms across the country …


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We sit at the Edge of our experience and passion, learning about the students we wholeheartedly serve.




What You Think You Know About Restorative Justice Is Probably Wrong

Last week we ran a piece written by a mother whose experience with restorative justice was a horror story. Readers responded in large numbers to the piece, largely because it resonated personally with them. But it doesn’t seem fair to allow the terrible implementation of restorative justice to define what it is …


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between restorative justice and restorative practices?

Restorative justice, applied within the court and criminal system, gives victims who have been harmed by a particular crime or conflict the chance to communicate with their offenders to seek accountability and to make amends.


Deriving from restorative justice, restorative practices employs its principles, methods and philosophy in everyday practice, and can be used in various settings to build and restore relationships and prevent conflict through effective and positive communication between individuals and their communities.


Why is the need for restorative practices in schools important?

The school-to-prison pipeline is the disproportionate tendency of contact disadvantaged minors and young adults have with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, resulting from harsh zero tolerance policies implemented by school and municipal procedures (Heitzeg, 2009). Through restorative practices, schools utilize unique strategies for less severe infractions while holding youth accountable in school and out of the probationary system.


Heitzeg, N. A. (2009). Race, class and legal risk in the United States:
     Youth of color and colluding systems of social control. Forum on Public Policy. Winter.


What does restorative practices look like in schools?

A restorative school is one that works with youth and colleagues to develop a shared commitment to both education and social emotional enhancement. It provides a high support and high challenge environment with clear expectations for all. Schools with a restorative ethos choose belonging rather than exclusion, social engagement over control and meaningful accountability instead of punishment.


Should schools invest in a licensed IIRP instructor when considering training and implementation?

Yes. Restorative practitioners have earned a training license through IIRP, possessing the in-depth knowledge of philosophies and implementation systems. Restorative training is both intensive and on-going and should be provided by a professional who has held a school-based position. This empowers trust amongst stakeholders and properly ensures capacity development of educators and program sustainability.


Should restorative practices replace consequences for high-risk infractions?

No. Restoration is used to support schools and workplace organizations discuss low-risk conflict and tensions effectively and appropriately. When high-risk infractions occur, a restorative conference should accompany a consequence. The focus is to help the “accused” and the “harmed” preserve or restore their connection and safely reintegrate back into the environment following a disciplinary action.


Should we consider training with The Educated Edge even though we’ve done training with other vendors? Yes. Yes. The Educated Edge is the only fully licensed restorative vendor in Southern New England that models its training and coaching principles after the International Institute for Restorative Practices. The executive director is also a licensed trainer and instructor for IIRP. On numerous occasions, we have helped programs “unlearn” previous teachings so that they could properly and effectively prepare their program with the right methods.


After going through the two restorative trainings, The Introduction to Restorative Practices and Using Circles Effectively AND Facilitating Restorative Conferences, can we attend the Training of Trainers workshop to bring the training materials back to our program? Yes. IIRP offers the Training of Trainers (TOT) program to practitioners who have experience implementing and supporting others with the Restorative Practices Continuum. Restorative practices is a process, not an event, so programs should take their time and become confident with the interventions for at least a year before applying for the TOT. Rushing implementation to support immediate sustainability will result in mistakes.

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