Restorative Practices in Grand Rapids Public Schools
As we continue to focus on supporting the whole child and making sure that our students have the skills they need to succeed in school and in life, we are working to implement Restorative Practices (“RP”). RP is a system of practices that teach and allow students and staff to practice skills like self-awareness, communication, empathy, making good decisions, and maintaining healthy relationships. Additionally, the practices can be used to both build a sense of community to prevent problems and to resolve conflicts once they have occurred.
Restorative Practices range from asking students restorative questions that make them think about their behavior and how it made others feel to circles – which is what many staff are implementing – to formal conferences and mediation after a great harm has occurred.
While many think that Restorative Practices is “fluffy” and “lets students off the hook”, it actually makes those who cause harm to listen to and be accountable to those who were harmed, which could be one person or an entire building. This is how students and adults learn new skills and reflect on their behavior. Many staff members have embraced Restorative Practices and have seen it make a difference in their classrooms and their buildings. And as we continue to expand our implementation, we are hoping that we can work with families so we can truly become a strong, emotionally sound GRPS community.