3 ways I align Trauma Responsive Schools & Restorative Practices

I’ve been teaching Restorative Practices in schools for nearly two decades, that is almost 20 years.  I’ve learned an enormous amount from doing this.  I’ve been informed about managing a classroom, dealing with different systems, addressing competing priorities and the experiences of teachers & administrators.

In addition to being able to facilitate a great deal of incidents that happened in schools, I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned in teaching teachers, coaching teachers and conducting trainings with staff & students.

For my most recent training in Fort Worth Texas, I reviewed my training materials and found 3 key areas that align with the efforts schools are making to be trauma aware, trauma responsive and trauma informed.

Area 1 – ACES

Teaching about ACES.  Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Environments. (link)

Pair of ACEs Tree with Citation.png

Area 2 – Compassion

Restorative Practices in schools align with trauma responsive schools around the use and promotion of compassion.  One of the key elements taught in Restorative Practices is to move from “why” to “what happened”, this shift is now also part of trauma practices, from Oprah Winfrey mentioning it on 60 minutes, to counter discussions on blogs.  I was blogging about it back in 2011.  Avoiding ‘why’ is a compassionate approach.   I teach teachers other ways of responding and this twitter video shows some of the teachers in Fort Worth mentioning those.

I taught teachers how to consider and respond to what might be happening for the kids from tough places, or the Blue Bonnet Child.

Area 3 – alternative responses

As trauma approaches in schools recognize the need to not dish out punitive, demeaning punishment, restorative practices provide supporting responses that do what the punitive responses are intended to do: create safer more harmonious space for learning.

When I teach teachers we spend some time looking at why we would do Restorative, this is often a time to unpack our beliefs that punishment works.  I’ve learned to connect with teachers on the points that mean the most.  We work on setting good structures, handling relationships with kids that challenge us, and seeing the benefits for picking up restorative tools, like empathy connections, classroom circles, and school-wide approaches that respond to violations of the conduct code.

If your school is interested in learning more or keeping updated on training opportunities, you can contact me at kris[at] circle-space.org.  To sign up for our newsletter, click here.