Emily Marold's Mini-Course


Understanding and Implementing Restorative Justice In Schools

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Overview and Purpose

This mini course is about designing and maintaining a classroom centered around restorative practices. So often as teachers, we fall into a cycle of punitive punishments and our relationships with students can suffer from that. Restorative practices focus on maintaining relationships with students even when discipline is necessary and instilling a sense of ownership within students. I chose this topic because this is an initiative that my school has been working on for the past few school years and we are really seeing results. I center my classroom around restorative practices and I have seen an improvement in my students behavior overall and an increase in meaningful connections made with students. I think this is knowledge and practice that can be beneficial for more teachers to learn about because of what positive results it can yield.

Needs Assessment

  • The Educational Problem and Opportunity

Exclusionary discipline methods have been causing issues in schools for decades. Exclusionary discipline includes suspension and expulsion where the student who did not follow the rules was removed from the community. Exclusionary discipline practices have their place for dangerous instances in which harm would be caused to others but too often they are used to deal with even the most minor behavior issues. Furthermore, research has shown that exclusionary discipline practices are use disproportionately more among minority students (McNeill, et al. 2016). With this knowledge, an opportunity is presented. Restorative practices focus on inclusionary values that restore the relationships after discipline and do not isolate the student. Next Generation Learning Standards explains "Restorative practices focus on resolving conflict, repairing harm, and healing relationships" (2023). By shifting our paradigm to a restorative lens, we can hope to see students feel more invested and included in schools.

  • The learners/participants

The intended learners for this course are in-service or pre-service teachers who value alternatives to existing discipline practices.

  • Analysis of gaps

The reality of the gaps possible is that some learners may have never heard of restorative practices and have no preexisting knowledge or exposure to this time. In an ideal situation, learners will come into the course with some knowledge about what restorative practices are. They will also have a desire to change the way that relationships can be built and maintained. At the minimum, learners should have an interest in exploring alternative discipline practices and.

  • Existing efforts to address this gap

There has been an increasing amount of research being done on restorative practices in school. In a study done by Zakszeski and Rutherford (2021) they found that the cumulative amount of articles published on the impact of school based restorative practices increased from 1 in 2000, to 14 in 2010 and 71 in 2020. My school itself has been training teachers in restorative circles to begin this shift in our school culture.

  • Intent statement

This mini course will help participants address their needs by providing an explanation of what restorative practices are and offering real suggestions and approaches that can be used in classrooms.

Performance Objectives

After completing this mini-course, learners will be able to:

  • Define exclusionary discipline practices and restorative justice as terms and what they look like in education
  • Recognize the benefits of restorative justice for students and staff in a school
  • Identify processes and principles of restorative practices
  • Create restorative practices for their own classroom

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: What is Restorative Justice?

In the introductory unit, learners will be introduced to what restorative justice and its opposite exclusionary discipline are. Articles and videos are included to give a foundational understanding of the two topics. Learners will reflect on what both are and the differences between the two different strategies.

Unit 2: What Are The Benefits of Restorative Justice/Practices?

In the second unit, learners will hear different accounts of positive impacts that have come about from schools incorporative restorative justice practices. From this, learners will make connections to their own school and specific examples of how restorative practices could be beneficial.

Unit 3: What Are The Processes/Principles of Restorative Justice/Practices?

In the third unit, learners will reevaluate their definitions of exclusionary discipline and restorative justice. From there, they will read three case studies on restorative practices in school and use those to define common principles within restorative justice. Using those common principles, they will develop examples of how this could be implemented in their own school.

Unit 4: What Would Restorative Practices Look Like for Me?

In the final unit, learners will create their action plan for three practices on how they could successfully implement these practices into their classroom. Learners will also reflect on what they have learned throughout the course.