Restoring Community

Jo BerryIn this short video excerpt, IIRP Europe conference featured presenter Jo Berry briefly describes the importance of her 14-year friendship with Patrick Magee, a former member of the Irish Republican Army who claimed responsibility for planting a bomb that killed her father, a British Member of Parliament.

Rick PhillipsIn this guest post, Rick Phillips, Founder and Executive Director of Community Matters, talks about the importance of getting the support of parents and families when instituting restorative practices using a wide range of communication channels. This article originally appeared on the Community Matters web page.


The successful implementation of restorative practices requires the involvement and commitment of the entire school-community. Stakeholders include district and site administrators, both classified and non-classified staff, students, families and youth-serving community partners.

However, many educators do not engage families as stakeholders when introducing their restorative practices initiatives and plans. Since restorative practices is not a program or a curriculum, but rather a philosophy and a way of thinking and acting, introducing restorative practices to the students’ families in an inclusive, collaborative and culturally sensitive manner is critical for success.

One of the cornerstones of restorative practices is the use of “fair process” which recognizes that people are most likely to support change when they’re engaged and included in the process. According to Ted Wachtel of the International Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP), “Human beings are happiest, healthiest and most likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in authority do things with them rather than to them or and to  them”. 

In the case of families, it is critical they’re involved early in the process, and that the administration is working with them. It’s also important that families understand the reasoning for the schools moving away from a more traditional and punitive approach towards the restorative practices approach.

When school administrators fail to recognize the importance of building family engagement early in the process they run the risk of families feeling uniformed, confused and ultimately defensive - outcomes that can have negative consequences on the program’s full adoption and ultimate success.

So, what are the keys for building and gaining family and parent support? Consider doing the following:

  1. Host a series of introductory information meetings at a variety of times of day so that working parents have options for attending. These are opportunities for families to learn about restorative practices and to contribute their ideas in the early stages of implementation;
  2. Conduct webinars and social media campaigns to provide on-going opportunities for learning and additional input;
  3. Identify and invite parent leaders to be a part of the leadership group responsible for the restorative practices planning and implementation;
  4. Create information packets for students to take home that inform parents of the many benefits of restorative practices; also coach students regarding the importance of their parents being well informed;
  5. Secure the services of a consultant to provide expertise, support, technical assistance and planning; there are many best practices that a consultant can help you incorporate into your planning so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

In addition, we recommend using existing platforms of communication with families that you have found work well. School websites and newsletters, open houses, student activities, sporting events and other activities that parents typically attend, local news outlets and parent teacher conferences are some examples of effective methods of communication.

When families are seen as a key stakeholder group and then invited to participate early on in the process, implementation and ongoing sustainability of the restorative practices approach is much more likely to succeed.

The successful implementation of restorative practices requires the involvement and commitment of the entire school-community. Stakeholders include district and site administrators, both classified and non-classified staff, students, families and youth-serving community partners.

However, many educators do not engage families as stakeholders when introducing their restorative practices initiatives and plans. Since restorative practices is not a program or a curriculum, but rather a philosophy and a way of thinking and acting, introducing restorative practices to the students’ families in an inclusive, collaborative and culturally sensitive manner is critical for success.

One of the cornerstones of restorative practices is the use of “fair process” which recognizes that people are most likely to support change when they’re engaged and included in the process. According to Ted Wachtel of the International Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP), “Human beings are happiest, healthiest and most likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in authority do things with them rather than to them or for them”. 

In the case of families, it is critical they’re involved early in the process, and that the administration is working with them. It’s also important that families understand the reasoning for the schools moving away from a more traditional and punitive approach towards the restorative practices approach.

When school administrators fail to recognize the importance of building family engagement early in the process they run the risk of families feeling uniformed, confused and ultimately defensive - outcomes that can have negative consequences on the program’s full adoption and ultimate success.

So, what are the keys for building and gaining family and parent support? Consider doing the following:

  1. Host a series of introductory information meetings at a variety of times of day so that working parents have options for attending. These are opportunities for families to learn about restorative practices, and to contribute their ideas in the early stages of implementation;
  2. Conduct webinars and social media campaigns to provide on-going opportunities for learning and additional input;
  3. Identify and invite parent leaders to be a part of the leadership group responsible for the restorative practices planning and implementation;
  4. Create information packets for students to take home that inform parents of the many benefits of restorative practices; also coach students regarding the importance of their parents being well informed;
  5. Secure the services of a consultant to provide expertise, support, technical assistance and planning; there are many best practices that a consultant can help you incorporate into your planning so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

In addition, we recommend using existing platforms of communication with families that you have found work well. School websites and newsletters, open houses, student activities, sporting events and other activities that parents typically attend, local news outlets, and parent teacher conferences are some examples of effective methods of communication.

When families are seen as a key stakeholder group and then invited to participate early on in the process, implementation and ongoing sustainability of the restorative practices approach is much more likely to succeed.

newspapers1As tensions across Europe heighten around the association of Muslims with terrorism, the RecoRa Institute works directly with youth at risk of becoming extremists to reduce violence and transform lives.

IIRP globe blueThe IIRP invites applications for an individual to join the faculty as both a researcher and instructor at the world's first graduate school wholly devoted to restorative practices.

Michigan Inside Out Summit

Inmates in Michigan prisons are studying and applying restorative practices in a growing effort to transform themselves, the Michigan corrections system, and their families and communities.

Kevin Jones1IIRP student Kevin Jones was presented the Martin Luther King. Jr., Human Relations Award, from the Bloomington, Indiana, Human Relations Committee, on January 14, 2017.  

commencement 2016 4The IIRP Class of 2016 celebrated Commencement October 23 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. On behalf of her class, commencement speaker Dianne Williams, Ph.D., of Trinidad, challenged everyone to “stand for something, believe in something, contribute to something,” concluding, “A restorative approach is the perfect way to do just that.”

IARSIf you are a victim of crime or an offender, please participate in a survey to assist in the creation of a new Pan London Restorative Justice Service.

RP meets social justice coverIn his foreword to a new book, Restorative Practice Meets Social Justice: Un-silencing the Voices of “At-Promise” Student Populations (Normore & Lahera, 2017), IIRP President John W. Bailie, Ph.D., argues that we need to restore the alignment of education philosophy and practice to a basic human blueprint for how we're hardwired to connect.

iirp ireland 2017 logo 300x300The IIRP Europe Conference, “Conflict in Europe: Meeting the Challenge,” (9-10 May 2017) will address significant issues manifesting in the current world climate, including radicalization, immigration, the disruptive impact of political movements, and sexual abuse and exploitation.

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