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Transforming classroom behaviour through restorative practice


A Calm Classroom
Calm Classroom

            Picture this! A classroom environment where conflicts are not only settled but transformed into prospects for understanding and positive development. Positive and reflective classroom behaviour management practices lie as the backbone objective of restorative practice.

Restorative practice is all about restoration rather than punishment. The restorative practice revolves around the idea that individuals make an optimistic behavioral transformation when people in power collaborate with people rather than working for them or with them. Restorative practices have been used in many forms, including peer mediation, restorative conferences, restorative circles, mediation, restorative conversations, and community-building circles (Lodi et al., 2021). According to research by Moran (2024), restorative practice has proved to be a potential factor for stimulating positive learning behaviour among learners. The practice contributes to achieving the objective by stressing responsibility and accountability, repairing damage, and restoring relations among the people in the community.

Nevertheless, restorative promotes positive learning conduct by teaching learners to participate in respectful conversations, even in the most provocative circumstances, which is the core of fashioning emotionally knowledgeable people. Kehoe, Hemphill, and Broderick (2016) examined the practice and highlighted that the practice imparts behavioural change by assisting learners in developing skills such as awareness, empathy, and reflective thinking. The capability of the practice to impart social, emotional, and social values among kids underscores the need for education to move beyond the traditional academic curriculum and integrate a more comprehensive model of education.

           In a literature review conducted by Lodi et al. (2021), it is evident that institutions with at least one restorative practice report increased levels of social skills. Such institutions have been able to nurture the capacity to handle emotions and enhance the development of positive relations. For instance, institutions with community-building circles represent preventive methods that can be implemented to aid instructors and learners in creating harmonious relations. The review also indicates that using restorative circles facilitates resolving learners' behavioural challenges, thus creating a safer space for personal reflection and identifying positive approaches for managing misbehaviour. Building upon the work of Lodi et al. (2021), nineteen articles highlight how individuals under restorative practices demonstrated positive outcomes regarding the capacity to handle behavioural challenges and misbehaviour and greater adherence to the rules. With restorative practices, learners demonstrate less misconduct, crime rates decrease, and behaviour is positive.

           As Augustine (2021) noted, conventional attitudes concerning authority and discipline are deeply engrained in many instructors' behavioural management and teaching practices. Instructors perceive conflict and disobedience from learners as non-compliance or an individual threat, which leads to reactive conduct from both parties. With restorative practice in mind, the parties adopt a restorative mindset that shifts away from blaming others and towards a more comprehensive perception of wrongdoing. Thus, with restorative practice, instructors can identify factors underlying certain behaviours and adjust their reactions towards such behaviours. Moreover, the restorative practice has positively affected different aspects of the school environment, such as heightened feelings of connectedness and safety among instructors and learners. A study by Moran et al. (2024) indicates that institutions engrained in restorative practice report lower incidences of violence and bullying as well as a high level of safety. The conducive surroundings around learners foster a strong sense of belonging that inspires learners to engage in their education via active, positive behaviour.

           The results were remarkable in a study conducted in schools across California on the impacts of implementing restorative practices. Schools adopting restorative practices encountered a significant decline in suspensions contrary to the control institutions (Darling-Hammond, 2023). The significant decline in suspensions denotes a notable improvement in the conduct and the efficiency of the practice in conflict resolution and addressing misbehaviour without occasioning punitive actions. Conclusively, research by different scholars has demonstrated with no doubt that restorative practices positively and profoundly impact learning behaviour, with the researchers reporting improvement of up to 50% or more. Thus, the study is an eye-opener for institutions towards designing and integrating restorative practices in the curriculum as a wheel for driving improved learning behaviour.  

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