The work of ReSolutionaries is based on the fundamental belief that all young people deserve to thrive in schools that value and engage every student as a crucial member of the school community. With decades of experience building restorative practices and restorative justice in schools, ReSolutionaries works closely with school staff, students, and parents to develop systems and practices to support relationships that lead to student learning and success.
Understanding that behavior communicates needs, ReSolutionaries help school communities approach conflict and challenges as opportunities to uncover and address underlying issues and needs. If students have strong relationships at school and their needs are being met, they feel valued and therefore engage in positive ways, and experience success and belonging at school. When parents feel welcome, respected and valued as powerful partners in their child’s education, both the school and the student’s success are strengthened. Through restorative practices people learn to treat others with respect, take responsibility for their actions and repair any harm their actions may have caused. ReSolutionaries help schools build a solid foundation of restorative principles holding firm accountability for behavior within a context of care for all persons.
We begin with the ReSolutionaries 5Rs Framework and work with all the stakeholders in a school to understand and integrate this framework along with restorative tools for classroom relationship-building (to help prevent conflict) and restorative circles (to intervene when more serious conflict/wrongdoing does occur).
Informed by the best practices of implementation science, ReSolutionaries associates work with school leadership, teachers, staff and parents, weaving restorative principles with initiatives present in the school to craft a customized plan for moving the school forward in its unique goals to assure success for all its students.
We assist schools to work through the natural resistance to a change of this magnitude with interactive learning sessions followed by regular coaching and debriefing. Administration, parents, students and school staff hone their new restorative tools and mindset and become conversant with restorative language and capable of facilitating restorative processes. Student and adult trainings center around teams who can then train others, as part of a focus on sustainability of restorative practices in the school community beyond reSolutionaries’ direct involvement. A team of trainers will be dedicated to this individualized implementation process at your school.
Making this culture shift in a school can often feel slow going. We are changing age-old paradigms, so we are willing to go slow so we can go fast. We are building relationships and that can’t be forced; respect and trust are being built as we go and this takes time. When setbacks are encountered it’s helpful to think about anything else that is taught in a school, like the subject of math. Just because some kids aren’t getting it, we don’t say, “Well Math just doesn’t work”. The same goes for restorative practices. It’s a learned skill that gets better with practice.
Once the basic building blocks of restorative practice are delivered in a school, then more specific tools can be taught so that the principles and theory can be put into action. There are a wide range of restorative tools that can be used and have impact from prevention all the way to intervention.
While there is often a strong pull to start at the intervention end, ReSolutionaries insists that schools start by learning and mastering the prevention tools. This is important for two reasons. First, when more focus is put on prevention, obviously in the long run, there is less time that needs to be spent on intervention. Second, it’s good for schools to build their restorative muscles, and get confident and competent in this new paradigm before they move into tools designed for alternatives to suspension, student-led teams, and restorative re-entry options.
Having worked with more than a dozen schools and informed with best practices from Implementation Science, ReSolutionaries developed School Readiness Factors and a 3-phase approach to achieve school-wide adaptation of restorative practices and culture.
School Readiness Factors
based on experience and the principles of Implementation Science:
- Unified administrative buy-in
- Willingness to create an implementation team that represents all stakeholders, i.e. staff, including certified and classified, parents, students, administration
- Time allotted for training/debriefing/follow-up at regular (monthly) intervals
- Commitment by staff and administration to put in the required time
Three Phase Approach
- Creating an implementation team & determining what will be measured so that success can be seen and shared
- Delivering foundational trainings to staff, students and parents
- Overcoming resistance & creating buy-in
- Creating a plan customized to the individual school
- Consistent work with implementation team on rollout of customized plan
- Progress checks through data and staff surveys
- Coaching and debriefing with staff through classroom observations
- Advanced restorative practice trainings based on specific plan for the school
- Fine tuning and support as needed to create sustainability
Time Frame for comprehensive whole-school implementation
Years 1: Foundational work with an implementation team and consistent meetings with Administration
Years 1-2: Full staff training in basics of Restorative Practices (RP), preferably including classified staff, student training, & parent training
Years 1-3: Ongoing coaching/debriefing with those who have been trained, in small groups such as grade-level teams or departments. This process, once learned, can be facilitated by teacher leaders, school leaders or implementation team.
Years 2-5: Support of students/parents who have been trained, classroom observations/debriefs, continued support and data review with implementation team and Administration
CONNECTION CIRCLES – ARE THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCK FOR DEVELOPING A RESTORATIVE SCHOOL
This simple circle process fosters relationships among students, school staff, parents and community members by giving equal voice to all and providing a safe space to be heard. Conflict is reduced and relationships flourish when people know one another better and become curious about others.
As connection circles become a familiar and trusted restorative practice, school staff in ReSolutionaries’ schools report successful use of circles in their own meetings, parents begin using them when they meet, and teachers find that instructional time is more productive. Incidents of disruptive behavior decrease when class begins or ends with a connection circle. Teachers at all levels report students asking for circles. As trust builds, connection circles become effective tools for addressing issues of importance in the classroom or the school community.
The focus starts with prevention by using Connection Circles at the classroom level. If a school wishes to add an interventive focus during years 2-3, facilitator training is available for adults, parents and/or students (middle and high school level) to conduct Solution Circles, which is a full restorative process that can be used as an alternative to suspension.
ReSolutionaries works with a school for 3-5 years for optimum results. Sustainability is a strong focus; schools can begin to co-train and debrief implementation as early as the first year and gradually take on full responsibility for restorative practices as long as the implementation team remains fully engaged and the administrative support continues to be unified.