Teaching Tuesday: Restorative Justice With Schools and Families

By Tracy Vasquez, Emily Farkas and Marjaneh Gilpatrick

teacher using restorative practices in her classroom

Collaborating with families allows us to create ongoing partnerships that nurture all developmental aspects of our students. In support of continued support of learning, leading and serving. As educators, we can extend efforts into a students’ home life through implementing the following strategies.

Learning by Asking the Right Questions

We can help families practice restorative communication by demonstrating asking open-ended questions that lead to reflection. For example, instead of asking, “Why did you do that?” you could ask, “What were you feeling when you did that?” As another example, instead of asking, “Why are you crying?” you could ask, “What are the tears for?” These types of questions encourage students to think deeply, understand and explain their actions. Families can use these questions as springboards to extend conversations and critical thinking that can focus on misbehaviors, responsibilities and resolutions.

Leading by Explaining With Love

As educators, we can help families improve interactions and relationships between students and families, by encouraging each to take a pause before discussing and administering disciplinary actions. For instance, rather than raising one’s voice and responding when students exhibit challenging behavior, family members can state, “I’m going to take a pause from this conversation to reflect and I encourage you to do the same.” After a brief period, the parties can regroup and discuss the logical consequences. You can help each family member express their needs to one another in a loving and kind way.

Serving With Modeling and Administering Logical Consequences

Family meetings are an opportune time to discuss accepted practices and expectation agreements. When an expectation is violated, the family can discuss alternative actions and appropriate consequences that will restore the family relationships. A family can prioritize treating everyone with respect and talk about how this will be implemented as a family.

For example, being mindful of one’s tone of voice can ensure that feelings are not hurt while modeling respect. These family meetings can additionally lead to discussions on logical consequences. For example, as you help families develop their family boundaries and consequences, you help them understand how consequences are directly related to the misbehavior and associated hurt feelings. When you collaborate with families as equal partners in fostering positive and respectful relationships, you are helping to develop and nurture restorative practices that lead to balanced childhood development. Students will become effective and contributing members of their communities.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and our degree programs and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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