5 Ways to Educate the School Community on Restorative Practices

By Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick and Tracy Vasquez

teacher talking with a student and his mother at school

When educators use restorative practices with their students, a ripple effect can be felt in the larger community, like that created when one skips a stone across a body of water. How else can you support and encourage the social and emotional well being of the whole community? Consider the following:

1. Educate the Community on Self-care

As the students’ educator, teachers have a tremendous power in helping the families of their students practice self-care. For example, when deploying weekly newsletters, educators can share ideas on healthy snacks, dinner conversation starters and fun ways to include exercise in daily activities.

2. Model Building Caring Relationships and Connections

When educators practice this trait with their students, they are also modeling this behavior for their families. Connect with each of the families as often as possible, not just during official parent/teacher conferences. Learn about their backgrounds, traditions and customs and have meaningful conversations with them, not only about their child’s academic performance, but also about their other pursuits.

3. Help Families Manage Stress

Internal and external stressors can be difficult for students to manage. Assist students and their families in recognizing signs of stress and ways to manage them. Again, your conversations and weekly newsletters can inform them about how stress manifests itself in children: stomach aches, headaches, not sleeping, not eating, crying frequently, or lacking interest in activities that tend to bring joy. In order to combat those stressors, you can encourage family activities and healthy communication.

4. Encourage Individual Actions Toward Those in Need

There often are initiatives to assist those in need during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why not extend these initiatives throughout the year? You can work with families and community leaders to organize food drives, raise money for important causes, beautify the community and hold town halls to celebrate successes and to brainstorm on ways to address concerns.

5. Foster the Practice of Mindfulness

Teachers can build resilience among family and community members by sharing practices to handle stressful situations. This can be shared not only during conferences, but in weekly newsletters. For instance, you can remind them to engage in meditation, yoga or prayer. These suggestions are just a few measures that educators can implement to further impact the social and emotional well-being of their students as well as their families and communities. A healthy and mindful community is better equipped to combat illnesses or stresses during daily lives or emergency situations.

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