Source: (2008) Changing ways / building skills, 12(2): pg. 1.

In supporting educators’ efforts over the past few years to create a safe, fair and responsive climate in Maine schools, we have found that many people appreciate this particular framework mentioned above: Relational Literacy. Educators recognize the value of building and maintaining connections with students, as these relationships promote both social/emotional and academic growth. And the field of Restorative School Practices, which we have been focusing on recently in this newsletter as well as through various public conferences and workshops, emphasizes the importance of establishing a base or foundation of connectedness among all members of a school. In fact, several writers in this field have chosen to illustrate the “big picture” of restorative practices with a pyramid graphic, in which the bottom section the base represents the “universal” or whole-school approach of creating a healthy and positive culture through strengthening relationships and community within a school. This preventive and proactive “groundwork” in relational literacy then enables students and staff to work as partners in addressing conflicts that come up in a restorative way. In a future issue I will explore the upper sections of the restorative practices pyramid which look at repairing and rebuilding relationships that have been harmed, but at this time, I’d like to highlight six reasons for beginning the shift towards a “restorative” school through community-building efforts, including the use of Community Circles.