Open Letter to School Social Workers

School Social Worker image_middle-School_studentsThanks for visiting our site and this webpage dedicated to restorative practices for school social workers.

Our purpose here is to help you understand what Restorative Practices is and how it can significantly change your school culture from being punitive to being restorative.

First, let’s ask the question. “How can all students feel a sense of belonging and significance?”

And, “How can we create a school culture that has fair processes for students and teachers to make things right when mistakes are made?” These are questions Restorative Practices in Schools seek to answer.

In our trainings, we often ask the question, “What kind of school culture and discipline system does your school have? Is it more punitive than restorative?”

“Does it rely on an outdated discipline matrix that suspends students for infractions and harms that could be dealt with in a more restorative way? In a way that encourages the student to take responsibility for their actions, to see the impact of their behaviors on the person they harmed and the community? Does it allow those impacted by the behavior to be a part of the process and have their voice heard so the person responsible is motivated by the power of relationships rather than the power of someone’s rule?”

Too many schools punish students and then isolate them without giving them a chance to learn from their mistakes and repair the harm that was done.

Restorative Practices is framework for a broad range of restorative justice approaches that proactively build a school community based on cooperation, mutual understanding, trust and respect, and respond to conflict by including all people impacted by a conflict in finding solutions that restore relationships and repair the positive behavior in classrooms and on school campuses

As we mentioned in the SSWAA Newsletter, Restorative Practices has been gaining tremendous support around the country with the following benefits:

  • Reduced suspensions and office referrals
  • Helping to end the school-to-prison pipeline
  • Shifting away from a punitive culture to a restorative culture
  • Increased sense of safety, belonging, and academic achievement

Does it work? We’ve collected data from around the country, both on whether it works and on the statistics for kids who are suspended, expelled, arrested, etc. in our handout Restorative Practices in Schools: Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline & Stats That Prove It Works.

If you’re interested in bringing Restorative Practices to your school, please give us a call or send us an email so we can start the conversation and see what next steps we can take. We have a list of our Training Services and Support so you can see the full range of what we offer. Also, do check out our website which is full of helpful resources.

At Restorative Solutions, we’ve seen real success when school social workers bring this idea back to their administration or discipline team and start the 3-5 year process needed to implement a program that is sustainable and carried out with fidelity.

We look forward to hearing from you.