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Restorative practices: Whole-school change to build safer, saner school communities.

May 31, 2011

…Kosciusko Middle School, in Hamtramck, Michigan, is in the process of
implementing the Whole-School Change Program, one of seven schools
doing so in this independent municipality within the city of Detroit.
Hamtramck has a highly diverse population that includes
African-American, Arab, Bengali and Bosnian residents, as well as those
whose families have lived there for generations. Nuo Ivesay, principal,
said that Kosciusko’s whole staff had been trained, including lunchroom
workers and custodians. “Before, they felt: Nobody pays attention to us.
Now they feel part of the school community and that somebody cares. Now
we feel like we’re all in this together. It’s making a difference

The Whole-School Change Program goes further to avoid the possible
pitfalls of top-down-initiated schemes. Said Bailie, “All school staff
members have some responsibility to craft and implement the program,
teaching and developing their restorative practices skills for
themselves and their colleagues in teams, supporting and spurring each
other along.” This change process mirrors the restorative philosophy:
that people respond best when those in authority do things with them, not to or for
them. “By giving everyone a voice and a role in the change process, you
give them a reason to buy in,” said Bailie, adding, “You can’t coerce
people to grow, learn and change.”

…Ultimately, restorative practices and Whole-School Change benefits the
entire school community — staff as much as students. Staff members say
that restorative practices is improving staff-to-staff communication as
much as staff-to-student interaction. Staff meetings are held in
circles, and, as noted previously, the Whole-School Change
implementation process is all about teamwork. As Warren Prep’s Deborah
Martinez said, “With restorative practices, teachers have more
communication and more patience with each other. They’re talking to each
other more about work and depending on each other more. We can have
tough conversations now. We can see what our colleagues need, and it’s
much easier to give each other advice regarding teaching practices or
how to handle or reach a particular child. Getting children where they
need to be is much more a collective process now.”

Read the full article.


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