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Building School Community: Implementing Restorative Practices

Brian Kulak, Anna Muessig — Collingswood Public Schools

Building authentic community is more important now than ever. Humans build community when they understand each other and understand how their own behavior impacts each other. However, sometimes students are insulated from building authentic community for any number of reasons. Whether it’s understanding empathy, building capacity, or finding voice, our students need to advocate for themselves in healthy, reciprocal, and transcendent ways. It’s our job to help them. In using Restorative Practices, we can build community and address harm in a way that respects all students, meets them where they are, and helps them move forward in their own growth. In this session, we’ll discuss Restorative Practices, share the ways that we’ve used them with our students—from elementary through high school—and provide you the opportunity to experiment with these practices and to reflect on ways that you can use them in your own professional setting.

Conversational Practice

We will introduce the tenets of restorative practices and explain why we’ve chosen to use this in our respective settings (elementary school in replacement for “traditional” discipline and in a high school English classroom). We will also share a brief example or two of how we’ve used these practices with students. In order to give attendees the opportunity to experience restorative practices, we will facilitate scenarios and/or a restorative circle, leaving time at the end for reflection and brainstorming for how attendees may choose to use elements of restorative practices in their own settings.

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