James Monroe High School

Restorative Justice

Introduction: Teaching Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles

This manual supports the teaching of restorative practices and skills in your classroom. Restorative Practices are a framework for building community and for responding to challenging behavior through authentic dialogue, coming to understanding, and making things right.
This manual describes how to hold restorative circles in classrooms. It contains step-by-step instructions for circles that build community, teach restorative concepts and skills, and harness the power of
restorative circles to set things right when there is conflict. Using these methods consistently will help to create calmer, more focused classrooms. Teachers who use these methods often find that the overall proportion of time dedicated to managing behavior is reduced. This means more instructional time becomes available. It also means that students (and teachers) have happier, more peaceful experiences of their school days.1

Restorative thinking is a significant shift from punishment-oriented thinking. People, including students, who are invited into restorative dialogue are sometimes confused by the concept of “making
things right.” Their default response to the question “What can we do to make things right?” often has to do with punishment. It is said that “children live what they learn.” When what they have learned is that troublesome behavior demands a punishment-oriented response that is how they will live. But restorative practices invite different ways of responding. These new ways must be learned through experience. The activities in this manual give students the necessary experiences to support a shift toward restorative ways of thinking and behaving.
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