“I’ll be honest, most people in the Board will never do a full restorative justice circle,’” Sir Winston Churchill vice-principal Timothy Powell-McBride told an HWDSB Equity Leaders’ Workshop on restorative justice yesterday. “But I tell you: this has completely transformed how I deal with kids.”
Unlike traditional a punishment model, restorative justice deals with harm by focussing on the restoration of relationships. It includes the community in making decisions about how to move forward. It diminishes conflict, increases communication and has low recidivism rates, proponents say.
And beyond the circle, those at yesterday’s RJ workshop – facilitated by Tanja Roglic, a special assignment teacher for Safe Schools – spent a full day covering the basics of restorative justice, with plenty of role play and discussion about its use in schools.
They practiced asking open questions to improve dialogue; they ran scenarios to highlight the importance of perception, and how the same facts can lead to different perspectives; they heard how creating a history of wrongdoing may delay a solution.
The approach, the presenters noted, does not replace Safe Schools legislation, which has a firm list of offenses for which suspension may or must be pursued. But as a student returns, RJ can help to restore their relationships with affected parties.