Positive working relationships at all levels are integral to the success of the social and learning environments of our school. Restorative practice enhances a school culture of mutual respect, care and support even in the face of wrongdoing and relational conflict.
RP the Waimate Way
RP is not a plug-in programme. It is the basis of our school culture, our way of living and breathing the school values. Our values of respect, responsibility and real honesty, are the cornerstone of restorative practices.
Waimate High School has been incorporating restorative practices in our behaviour management systems since 2010 and fully implementing a school wide approach in 2011. We view implementation as a journey that has real benefit for all involved.
This innovative approach allows for the people involved to come together to explore the harm and restore relationships. Those affected have a more active involvement in the justice process and those responsible are more accountable to the people they have harmed. Therefore restoring emotional as well as material losses of victims.
Restorative processes have been applied to a wide variety of harmful events ranging from classroom disruptions to incidents of serious physical, social and emotional harm. The same principles apply regardless of the level where students are encouraged to reflect, repair and reconnect.
Teachers are encouraged to engage in restorative conversations both as prevention and as an early intervention for relatively low-level classroom disruption. The mini chat models respectful dialogue and includes the language of restorative enquiry.
What is happening?
What were you thinking?
Who do you think is being affected?
How do you think they are affected?
What do you need to do to put it right?
Teachers refer disruptive students from class if their behaviour is affecting others and their learning opportunities.
A three-step system is followed in the classroom to prompt a disruptive student to self-monitor and self-correct. Further disruption beyond this point results in the student being referred from class and sent to the office and then a designated teacher. This ‘time out’ gives the student restorative thinking time when they are encouraged to reflect on the problem and the issues which have prompted the referral.
Teachers use questions to prompt the student to understand the event from a wider perspective. Students tell their version of the event and are encouraged to explore the harm and impact on others. They are also encouraged to identify another way that will work for themselves and others in the classroom. The student completes their written restorative plan, meets with the teacher to discuss the issues, restore the relationship and thereby negotiate their return to class.
Smaller mini-conferences are used for less serious events. These will involve students and teachers. A neutral facilitator leads the process and the agreement reached is formalised, recorded, and kept as part of the school’s tracking system.
This more formal conference is used for more serious events and involves the whole community of people affected. This may or may not involve a stand-down or suspension. These conferences involve parents or caregivers of victims and offenders. They require the careful preparation of participants by a neutral facilitator. Agreements are recorded and kept as part of the school’s tracking system. A person responsible for follow-up is assigned.
This approach may be applied where a whole class is being affected by hostility or conflict causing learning to be impeded and relationships to be damaged. A neutral facilitator, teachers, support people, and the students meet in a circle and discuss the issues, explore the harm, and come up with solutions together.
Students who are trained peer mediators are available to work through low-level issues with students that may arise in the playground. They can prevent issues from escalating by supporting and enabling students to find their own solutions to conflict. This process reinforces our values, the importance of relationships, and effective communication.
We want all of our students to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners. RP The Waimate Way will enable us to foster this vision we have for our students.
Year 7 and 8 classes have circle time once a week with their Homeroom Teacher. Through structured sessions, they create a safe, trusting, and non-blaming environment in which to speak, listen, share thoughts, explore ideas and interact. The circle time programme aims to build a safe and caring learning culture within the class. This approach contributes to the communication skills and emotional, social, and interpersonal development of students.
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