Restorative Justice

Since 2003, our staff and  students have undertaken training in, and have been practising, restorative justice practices in order to manage student behaviour and promote effective pastoral care.

Every school will have some students who exhibit difficult and sometimes extreme misbehaviour. At DLSCCC we recognise that adolescents will make mistakes and that these can be a learning experience. Consequently, we are challenged to manage our young men in a way consistent with our espoused ethos and to assist them to bring about an internal change for their future lives.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a philosophy designed to assist such students by:

  • Encouraging them to take responsibility for this and future actions
  • Having them take action not just talk about their misbehaviour
  • Helping them repair current damage done
  • Empowering their victims
  • Assisting in bringing about real internal change

Essentially, restorative practices provide an alternative to traditional punitive behaviour management techniques. They emphasise the relationships encompassing students, their families and staff.

Our staff and students have developed numerous practices that attempt to restore good relationships following some conflict. By ensuring that all involved see the effect their actions have had on others, there is a greater chance that they will modify such poor behaviour and bring about transformative change.

Affective statements, affective questioning, circles, life-space interviews and group problem-solving interviews require time. Time to spend talking with students, not to them. Time to explore the affect of their actions, and for them to come to an understanding of this. Having the time to do this is a great challenge.

One high-end strategy is called ‘conferencing’. It involves a meeting between the offender, their victim/s, student and family supporters for both groups and a trained facilitator. All participants recount what happened to them at the time of the incident and hopefully all gain a clear understanding of the full impact and damage done. They then decide what to do to repair relationships and minimise further problems. Agreements are recorded, signed and hopefully acted upon.

Student response to staff usage of the such techniques is more than positive. Students prefer these to traditional methods. As well, anecdotal evidence suggests not only a decrease in poor student behaviour but also a welcome increase in the quality of learning.

Restorative Practices Continuum

To the right, is a classroom-centred diagram of the Restorative Practices Line Continuum sheet.

All possible behaviour-centred action should always begin in the classroom. If numerous strategies fail, then escalate attempts by involving others (other staff, peers, & parents) with the class teacher & particular student.

 

Restorative classroom practices

  • Mutual respect & fairness
  • Collaborative rules
  • Routines
  • Procedures
  • Consistent expectations
  • Relevancy
  • Preparation
  • Humour

  • Fun in the classroom
  • Variety in teaching
  • Individual knowledge
  • Evaluation
  • Feedback
  • Opportunities for success
  • Teacher’s enthusiasm
  • Anticipating problems

  • Reading students’ moods
  • Letting little things slide
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Voice control
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Good role-modeling