As Restorative Practices in school behavior programs gain momentum, a rising number of 7 Mindsets schools are also diving in, dramatically reducing suspensions and referrals. These schools are putting students first by keeping them in the school environment, transforming disruptions into learning opportunities. ”
“Shifting the focus from punishment to restoration positively impacts culture in countless ways.”
Principal, Vista PEAK
The term “Restorative Practices” emerges from the broader field of Restorative Justice: a dialectical framework rooted in indigenous societies that is now being applied in a variety of modern contexts including the legal justice system, schools, families, and communities. With decades of research now available, we know that restorative practices work for schools that are willing to implement them. But the common challenge schools face is finding the time to design, resource and implement the program.
This is where the common language in the 7 Mindsets Framework comes in. At Vista PEAK, in addition to holding restorative conversations, students experiencing in-school suspension are sent to the PEAK Room. There, each student writes a 5 paragraph essay which uses the 7 Mindsets as a compass to guide the student’s reflection on the events that took place.
For most schools, implementation begins with a curated process that brings together persons who have been harmed with persons responsible for inflicting harm. This is done in a safe and mutually empowering space. By facilitating self-awareness, listening, openness to other’s views and dialogue, these proven restorative practices:
- Restore Community by providing a shame-free way for harmed individuals to return to and experience a sense of community.
- Empower students to utilize a process that solves difficulties independent of adult intervention.
- Interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by shifting from a paradigm of punishment and doom, towards one of reparation and accountability
- De-escalate conflicts by equipping students with dialectical tools they can use to solve problems, overcome adversities and resolve conflicts for the rest of their lives.
- Significantly lower expenses incurred from recidivism, administrative referrals, and suspensions.
Each of the 7 Mindsets implementation is unique, reflecting the needs of its host community. Here are a few common elements we find across our network of schools:
- Creating a community that is anchored in shared values and the 7 Mindsets.These restorative practices work in schools by establishing a strong focus on culture and community. The 7 Mindsets (which provide a platform for individual success) are made common knowledge throughout the school. They are presented in a clear manner that everyone can agree with. From here, a set of agreements are made with every student and staff member. These subsequently govern individual responses to difficult situations for positive results.
- Making community inclusion and participation mandatory.Aligning a school community around the common language of the 7 Mindsets means more than just using the language. Every participant in the community understands his and her role and responsibility in creating a positive community environment. Staff and students commit to engaging in restorative processes in response to witnessing, receiving or inflicting harm. This instills a reciprocal dynamic: We will keep you safe, but for this to work you must participate in keeping everyone else safe.
- Modeling and teaching community values.Every successful restorative practices program we find in 7 Mindsets schools is built on a foundation of modeling (vs instruction only) restorative conversations and the 7 Mindsets. The more fully the program is integrated into every aspect of school life, the more effective it proves to be.
- Holding students and staff accountable using the 7 Mindsets.At the end of the day, restorative practices that work are built upon the mindset of 100% accountability. Students and staff understand and agree to remain cognizant of their relationship with their school community. If they violate the restorative practices that create and maintain a safe and successful community, they can take accountability and learn from the experience. Consequences are taken seriously, but they take the form of learning opportunities.
Bring 7 Mindsets based Restorative Practices to enhance and solve problems with your school’s culture community. Speak with one of our implementation guides to learn how to seamlessly integrate the program in your school by completing the form below and we’ll respond promptly.
I will act as if what I do will make a difference. William James