Restorative Practices

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    At Spokane Public Schools, we strive to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and staff. We want all SPS families to feel connected to their schools and to feel understood, heard, and respected. Conflicts are a part of daily life and making mistakes is a part of growing and learning. With this in mind, SPS embraces a restorative approach to conflict, meaning that we see conflicts and harmful behavior as an opportunity for students and staff to:

    • Learn about themselves and each other
    • Take accountability
    • Develop empathy
    • Repair harm and restore relationships
    • Identify supports that meet the individual for each of our students.

    The SPS Board of Directors adopted Policy 3240 in 2016 as a way to promote positive behaviors and school success. Learn more:

pyramid shape of tiers (explained below)

Tier 1: Strategies used with all students to build a strong community

Restorative Communication (Affective Statements and Restorative Questions)

  • Description: When conflicts happen, using restorative communication can help build safe and strong relationships.
    • “Affective Statements” model ways of expressing needs based on how a person’s behavior affects others.
    • “Restorative Questions” are helpful for adults to understand the student’s needs and to help the student problem-solve.
  • HandoutRestorative Communication

Classroom Circles

Tier 2: Strategies used to resolve conflicts

Rupture – Repair: Resolving Student-Teacher Conflicts

  • Description: There are times when students get upset and teachers get frustrated and there is a rupture in the relationship.  It is important to ensure that both the student and teacher have the support they need to first calm down after the conflict.  Once everyone is calm, the teacher can initiate a conversation that allows the student to share their perspective, explain what they need, and understand the impact the incident/behavior had on others. Together, the student and teacher can then make an agreement for how they can repair their relationship and avoid the conflict in the future. 
  • HandoutRupture-Repair Overview
  • Video: The Impact of Trauma on the Brain
  • Video: Under the Surface, Empathy

Mediation: Resolving Student Peer Conflicts

  • Description: When two students or a group of students are having a conflict, an effective approach is mediation.  This is a process where a neutral facilitator (adult or peer) leads those in conflict through a process that results in an agreement.  The process uses clarifying questions to identify needs and brainstorm options for mutual gain.
  • HandoutMediation Participant Guidelines
  • HandoutMediation Steps
  • HandoutMediation Agreement Template

Tier 3: A strategy used to repair harm & reconnect students

Formal Restorative Conferences

  • Description: When behavior causes harm in our schools, a formal restorative conference empowers the people who were harmed by creating a safe space to share their experiences, ask questions, and identify what they need to feel whole again. For the person who caused harm, the process provides an opportunity to take accountability, understand the impact of their behavior, and create a plan to prevent future harm. This process can occur in lieu of other discipline, alongside other discipline, or upon re-entry to school after exclusionary discipline.
  • HandoutReengagement Meeting Family Resource
  • HandoutRestitution in Schools
  • HandoutRepairing Harm in Schools
  • BrochureSPS Behavior and Conflict Philosophy Guide
  • PowerPointRepairing Harm 
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