The International Institute of Restorative Practices defines Restorative Practices as “an emerging social science that studies how to strengthen and repair relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities.” Research conducted on restorative practices in schools have found a range of positive results, including significantly reduced suspension rates, reduced enrollment for alternative schools, and a safer school environment.
Education Lifeskills is proud to offer Restorative Practice Professional Development workshops for schools and districts. Each of the three workshops is designed to meet school and district needs, whether they have had previous Restorative Practice training or not.
Spearheading these workshops is our Partnership Manager, Richard Long, who specializes in providing tiered interventions, restorative frameworks, and youth and adult leadership models.
Below, he gives his thoughts on the development of the RP workshops, and the feedback from schools and districts thus far.
So why the Restorative Practices Workshops?
First, Richard says, there were people in his life that helped him along the way, and this is a way to pay it forward. “I had people in my life that had this kind of mindset [of] what it takes to help kids and that was big.”
Second, he cites his work career. “Since 2003, my entire career has been along the base of something restorative: the ANASAZI [foundation], Child Protective Services, therapeutic schools, behavioral health care centers, and finally public high schools. In each of these, I was involved in a process of restoration.”
And last, but definitely not least, it would seem that Restorative Practices as a framework is in demand, as educators seek to move away from more traditional practices. “There was a demand for [restorative practices] – that’s how it all started,” he continues. “I presented at a conference, and an educator came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I need you to come and train my staff on what you just did.'” This, he says, became a trend as requests came in at conferences, from conversations with associates, as well as from current clients. There was a clear need for a Restorative Practices framework, and Richard’s own background and experience matched up; the rest is history.
What Restorative Practices Workshops have been like so far
It has been a little over a year now since Education Lifeskills began offering RP Professional Development workshops. The COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world was an unforeseen hiccup. Adjustments were made and workshops were scheduled responsibly.
What have they been like? “It’s been a really great response. The workshops have been awesome and I’ve really enjoyed doing it,” says Richard.
However, shifting away from more traditional disciplinary measures may not be easy, for the simple fact that traditional, exclusionary discipline measures have always been the norm.
“Traditional discipline practices are so ingrained, such a huge part of what happens in education because it’s what we’ve done forever,” says Richard Long, our Partnership Manager, who spent years as a teacher and administrator. Thus, the Restorative Practices Professional Development workshops become a tool in helping educators make the shift from the traditional discipline model.