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Submitted by on Wed 22/02/17 14:15

When a student struggles in English, we teach them!
When a student struggles in maths, we teach them!
When a student struggles with their behaviour, we errr ... punish them??
This is how the Restorative Practices workshop was introduced at the XLR8 evening recently.
What is restorative practice? In simple terms, it is teaching people how to resolve issues and become more happy, engaged citizens of our school community. In more theoretical terms, it is a research-based behaviour strategy that promotes, nurtures and protects healthy relationships and helps students develop self-directed positive behaviour.
We have high expectations for the behaviour of our students at IAS. Yet we recognise that wherever there is a community of people, there are opportunities for disruption, hurt, and disappointment. In reality, these are also teaching opportunities that allow us to focus on how behaviour impacts relationships and the community as a whole.

When we talk to a child who has done some harm, we ask them several questions. This doesn’t include the question: "Why did you do that?”. Instead of asking them to justify their behaviour and talk about who’s to blame, we focus on what has happened, who’s been affected, and how the student can repair the harm.

Questions we ask:

  • What has happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • Who has been affected?
  • In what way?
  • What do you think needs to happen to fix this?
  • What can you do?
  • What can I do to help? 

By asking the wrongdoer what their thoughts were at the time, a teacher gains greater insight into their personal circumstances. Sometimes their answers are surprising and reveal a need that we would never have known if the situation had not occurred in the first place. In the long run, we more effectively meet the needs of our community and make relationships stronger.
There’s a corresponding set of questions for those who have been effected by what happened. This is a vital part of the process as it gives children a voice in the scenario and reestablishes a footing upon which the relationship might work again:

  • What happened?
  • What did you think at the time?
  • How have you been effected by what happened?
  • What do you need so that things are put right?

Like an architect restoring a beautiful old building, this process is not skin deep. We don’t do a quick cover up, but take the time to delve into the structural issues, rebuilding stronger relationships and making them more functional into the future.
With Restorative Practice, children develop strength of character and life skills. They learn how to actively listen, constructively solve problems, and express their emotions appropriately. They learn the importance of righting wrongs and finding ways to move forward where relationships have been damaged. This is very much in keeping with the Christian gospel story.
As educators, we grapple daily with how to keep students safe, happy, and engaged in learning for the long haul. Restorative Practice is a key part of the solution. If your child comes home and tells you they are involved in a restorative chat at school, please listen to them. Support them regardless of whether they are the wrongdoer or the victim (remember that there are always two sides to every story). Trust in the process that IAS is carrying out and seek clarification if you have any concerns.
In the meantime, why not try some restorative conversations at home? When parents and schools work together, children are always the beneficiaries.

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The Spirit of Ipswich Adventist School

A fine education is about much more than producing leaders and responsible citizens, and helping young people master important skill sets. It is also about identifying what kind of person they want to become. Ipswich Adventist School specialises in building character.
We help young people become people of character.