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Restorative justice in the classroom

October 21, 2015

from the story by Kara Lofton on WMRA:

Restorative justice is the idea that conflict occurs because of broken relationships. If relationships can be restored, conflict can be resolved without punishment, resentment, or continued animosity. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to three teachers who are bringing the practice into their classrooms…..

ROB FENNIMORE: When I think about restorative justice I think about meeting needs and paying attention to the harm that’s caused all the parties involved. Let’s take the example of a child misbehaving in class whether toward another classmate or a teacher.

One way to solve that would be to remove or punish the student who is being disruptive.

But Fennimore says if he can remove himself from the equation (he said classroom disruption often feels very personal) and ask, “why is the child acting that way?” he can humanize the child as a complex being with struggles that may have nothing to do with the scenario at hand.

FENNIMORE: And then give the child who is acting up a chance to say why he or she is acting that way. I feel like in that moment some real magic can happen where the offending child can hear what he or she is doing wrong to others, the impact that’s having and for the person who is being distracted, or in my case as a teacher I can tell that child, “what you’re doing hurts me.” That’s a phrase that I’ve used a lot with kids rather than “get out!” or “you’re really making me angry!” I will often give the example of “what you’re doing hurts me,” and then give the example of why it’s hurting me. 

But in order for that kind of restorative justice to work in classrooms, there needs to be a foundation of trust between students and teacher.

Read or listen to the whole story.


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