Restoring Community

Nicola Preston wears many hats, but they all involve restorative practices. She's a lecturer at the IIRP teaching online courses and a special education needs coordinator for a UK primary (elementary) school. She says that restorative practices have even made a big impact in her personal and family life.

Preston began teaching at the IIRP earlier this year, but her experience in the field of restorative practices goes back nearly 20 years, beginning with her pioneering work as a founding member of the Thames Valley Police's Restorative Justice Consultancy. She has continuously worked in the field of restorative practices as a trainer, facilitator and researcher, and more recently as a special education teacher. She has an M.A. in Restorative Practices and Relationships from Chester University’s Integrative Studies Programme and an M.A. in Education from Northampton University.

In the above video, Preston speaks about why restorative practices is so important to her and also about teaching RP 506 "Restorative Practices: The Promise and the Challenge." She talks about her own history and why this course is so close to her heart as well as the joy of working with adult students from around the world.

This fall Preston will also begin teaching a new course, RP 662 "A Restorative Approach to Educating the High-Risk and High-Need Student," which grows out of her work and research with a high-risk population in special education.

“In terms of practice, I’m involved as a special education needs coordinator in an area of high deprivation," said Preston. "The kids I work with experience poverty, frequently trauma and persistent adversity, and in their families, substance abuse, neglect and a number of other serious issues." She adds, "But this course is also relevant to my research interests focusing around the social and emotional aspects of learning.

Going beyond "behavior management," the course was created to meet the needs of mainstream or specialized classroom teachers. The course will challenge the deficit-model and labeling approaches so common in modern education institutions. Special attention will be paid to new insights from neuroscience that challenge these models.

"In RP 662 we'll explore the links between affect theory and the IIRP’s explicit model of restorative practices and how all that can be linked into restorative practices in schools. This has an impact for both behavioral cognition as well as learning."