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At Tulsa Pubic Schools, we believe in the power of restorative practices and interventions. On our journey to Destination Excellence, students, teachers, and leaders will foster safe, supportive, and joyful learning environments that emphasize acceptance and inclusion for all students. There are profound benefits for a school community when we seek alternative options to exclusionary discipline practices. Our school leaders are working on ways to devise an approach that ensures accountability, reflection and reconciliation.
What are restorative practices?
Restorative practices support our Social Emotional Learning beliefs related to relationship building, self awareness, self management, social awareness, and responsible decision making. They were developed with one specific goal in mind; to support and facilitate the building of healthy relationships throughout your child’s educational journey within Tulsa Public Schools and for life. It has been proven beyond doubt that when individuals live in healthy and life giving relationships with significant others, there is abundant personal growth, capacity for character building and a high level achievement in all areas of endeavor. If and when conflicts arise, we utilize restorative practices to support a well-rounded resolution to the issue at hand.
When additional interventions are needed:
Restorative practices are a set of problem solving techniques used to build community, respond to harm/conflict and provide individual support for students. By building, maintaining and restoring relationships between members of the entire school community, we create an environment where all students can thrive.
When things go wrong, there are four kinds of responses required to fully address to the problematic situation at hand:
- Contain the situation to minimize any additional harm
- Repair the harm done
- Reduce the likelihood of the problem recurring
- Restore all parties to full status and well-being and relationships to good working order
Social and emotional learning are central to sustained improvement. There are different ways to utilize restorative practices:
Circles are a traditional way to build community and at the same time enable and allow all parties to:
- safely and respectfully share their thoughts, feelings and experiences
- gain insights into the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others involved
Ideally, circles will be used widely in the life and work of the school. They are used used regularly - routinely and address positive and/or negative experiences. Circles can be preventative, proactive or responsive. Examples include:
- Daily “Check-in / Check-out”
- Preparation for a unit of study
- Monitoring progress
- Teaching social skills and emotional literacy
- Team building
- Issue exploration, problem solving
Although the detailed wording may change slightly, the following questions are central to hearing and being heard. They are also 'restorative' in the sense that they lead directly to 'putting things right.'
- What happened?
- What were you thinking of at the time?
- Who has been affected by what you have done?
- How do you think they have been effected?
- What do you need to do to put things right?
- How are you going to put things right?
Three shifts toward restorative schools and classrooms:
|Efforts to suppress misbehavior based on the view that misbehavior is evidence of failing students or classrooms.||Recognizing and using the inherent value of misbehavior as an opportunity for social and emotional learning|
|Authority driven disciplinary actions that focus only on the identified misbehaving students||Restorative circles that bring together everyone who is most immediately affected by the incident|
|Punishment and exclusion is used to control misbehavior and motivate positive behavior changes||Dialogue leading to understanding and action to set things right and repair and restore relationships|
Director of Student Engagement
Restorative practices at work around the district:
Conflict Resolution cards are used by students at the elementary and secondary levels. This is a way for students to be proactive in handling conflicts and to seek help from a trusted adult.
East Central High School has implemented the Success Center. Instead of exclusionary discipline, East Central gives students the opportunity to remain at school and do their work in the Success Center.
Eugene Field and Hoover elementary schools have implemented the Leader in Me program. This program teaches leadership and life skills based on the idea that every child can be a leader.
Anderson Elementary has a designated room where students can go to deescalate. They also have yoga available to their students as a way to de-stress.