• Here's a piece about schools in Scotland, where the number of exclusions (suspensions and expulsions in US parlance) is decreasing. The article quotes Ann Ballinger, general-secretary of the SSTA, Scotland’s second-largest teaching union:

    “Restorative justice, staged intervention and the use of organisations like SkillForce have produced gratifying results in a number of establishments, enabling young people to learn appropriately and teachers to work in a calm and supportive environment”...

  • Deanna L. Webb earned a Master of Restorative Practices and Education in June 2009 at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School, through the one-year FastTrack program. She is an eighth-grade special education teacher at a middle school in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA.

    When I graduated from college with a degree in special education, I was prepared to offer students specially designed instruction, program modifications and a variety of teaching techniques to match their individual learning styles, as well as tools and techniques they could use to be successful with academics. What I was not prepared for, however, was the need to fill in the blanks in their lives


  • Circles are a great tool for dealing with holiday stress. In a "talking circle," one person speaks at a time, and everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.

    At CSF Buxmont, we start holding circles to talk about the holidays shortly before Thanksgiving. Some go-around questions include:

    • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    • What are some of your holiday traditions?
    • Who do you celebrate with?
    • What are some of your concerns about holiday time?
    • What are you worried about for the holidays?
    • What would your ideal holiday celebration look like?

  • Here's a followup to last week's news that a 9-year-old boy was suspended for calling his teacher "cute." From a blog post at Education News which has all the details (click here):

    [A]fter a district investigation, officials have found that Emanyea  [the boy] did nothing wrong.  The school board then gave principal Jerry Bostic the option to resign or have his contract terminated.

    Bostic, who had been working for 44 years, said:

    "I didn’t show a history of making problems like that. I’ve had the best of


  • “Before we had circles we didn’t feel like our voices mattered. Now the violence and fighting have stopped. We all come together. A lot of us want to change the world.” —A 15-year-old Bengali girl at Hamtramck High School, in Hamtramck, Michigan, USA

    The above is from a student interview in a new article, "Restorative Practices: Giving Everyone a Voice to Create Safer, Saner School Communities," by Laura Mirsky, in the new issue of The Prevention Researcher, a quarterly US journal that focuses on successful adolescent development and serves professionals who work with young people.

  • This piece struck me as interesting because it specifically discusses the possibility of using restorative justice to resolve  juvenile hate crimes. It even quotes a youth who specifically says he would have liked to have talked with the offender to get questions answered and to correct misinformation. Are criminal justice systems truly listening to the voices and needs of victims?

    On Monday, celebrity chef, Tony Singh was in Leith - one of the most culturally diverse areas of the capital - to support the juvenile hate crime scheme that aims to stamp out crimes motivated by prejudice against race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender people.

  • On her web site, Julia Steiney writes: "For 20 years, I’ve been trying to understand how the public sector can successfully cultivate strong families, healthy schools and lively communities.

    "The international 'restoration' movement brings a wide range of practices under a simple philosophical umbrella. Its main technique, 'talking circles,' can be applied almost anywhere and taught to anyone, including young children and undereducated, marginalized adults. It is used to settle fights, to develop empathy in bullies and to safely engage victims and offenders in dialogue..."

  • Here's a couple clips from an article reposted in the Seattle Medium by Michael Radcliff entitled "Effective Strategies in the Prevention of Youth Violence." The article plans in a number of cities, but note the paragraph about Detroit's program which employs restorative practices.

    Dr. Ben Robertson, Professor of Social Work at Southern University at New Orleans, whose published works include, “Urban Youth and Programs geared to help them Deal with Conflict Fighting and “Attitudes Towards Violence Among Urban Youth,” discussed Cultural Specific Conflict Resolution at a recent seminar on Youth Violence Interventions sponsored by Southern University at New Orleans.

  • It happens more and more these days that I read a head-line and immediately wonder why restorative justice, or restorative practices, couldn't be used in these cases. The one that caught my attention this morning was a piece originally from the Huffington Post which you can see here.

    According the piece, a substitute teacher overheard the boy tell his friend another teacher was "cute." This was reported to the principal who decided to suspend the boy for two days.

  • Listen to a recording of the 20-minute interview here:

    Bob Kellogg of OneNewsNow summarizes the interview of IIRP President Ted Wachtel on Conversations with Justin Earl, Milwaukee Radio 920AM:

    With zero-tolerance policies on the wane in several states, an alternative to dealing with student discipline problems appears to be working more effectively.

    According to Ted Wachtel, president of the International Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP), zero-tolerance policies have been in place for decades, but they have not been very successful.

  • “Somebody could have died that day.” That’s what a student said after a fight nearly erupted at a small Detroit high school last month. But a restorative circle squashed the tension and prevented a tragedy.

    It began in the cafeteria with an argument between two boys, but it quickly escalated, with kids taking sides, stripping off their shirts and getting into it. With some of the students claiming past affiliation with a neighborhood gang, this was serious.

    The adults tried to separate the boys, but they struggled to calm the two students down.

    Then a ninth grade boy stepped in: “I got this. I’ll do a circle.”

  • I'm pleased to reprint this article by Ben Ingram about a presentation given at a school by Bruce Schenk, director of IIRP Canada.

    Bruce Schenk uses a Hoberman sphere to illustrate the benefit of helping offenders to feel apologetic instead of threatened, to learn from their actions and not only be punished for them. Photo by Ben IngramA Nov. 10 presentation at Chatelech Secondary School in Sechelt discussed the benefits of adopting a restorative approach to conflict resolution in both the community and its schools.

    The idea behind


  • From Nova Studios web site:

  • Udi Ofer, photo by Alberto MoralesThe New York Times "SchoolBook" section – "News, data and conversation about schools in New York City" – has an opinion piece about the need for schools to report carefully on who they suspend for what and how frequently. The author, Udi Ofer, writes, "Figures released last week by the City Department of Education show that city schools suspended 5-year-olds at least 35


  • The Week of November 13, 2011 Is Restorative Justice Week

    According to this piece, "'Re-visioning Justice,' the theme for this year's Restorative Justice Week... calls upon Canadians to envision how a restorative justice approach can be applied and implemented within a broader social justice context. It is a challenge to those who work in the health care, educational, justice, correctional and all other systems and/or levels of government, to be creative and innovative in looking at 'justice' through a restorative justice lens."

    A National Restorative Justice Symposium will take place in Kamloops, British Columbia, November 13-15, 2011.

    For an up to date google news search of Restorative Justice Week Canada related events click ...

  • "Most striking, students showed higher gains in math achievement when their teachers reported frequent conversations with their peers that centered on math, and when there was a feeling of trust or closeness among teachers. In other words, teacher social capital was a significant predictor of student achievement gains above and beyond teacher experience or ability in the classroom. The effects of teacher social capital on student performance were powerful.”

    This is a quotation by Dr. Carrie Leana in an Education News piece, "Julia Steiny: Terrific School Morale Improves Math Scores," which you can read in full here. Feel free to discuss in the comments.

  • Circle discussion at Endeavor High SchoolAs Hull Centre for Restorative Practice in the UK just completed its Restorative Practice Conference, I'll offer a look back at this eForum story by Laura Mirsky from two years ago reporting on the city's progress toward its goal of becoming the world's first restorative city.

    Hull, UK, led by the Hull Centre for Restorative Practices (HCRP) and the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), is endeavoring to become a


  • IIRP alum Ben Emery is working with the Colorado Restorative Justice Council and blogs at He writes that he kept hearing about good work happening by the Longmont High School Restorative Justice Team, where teenagers are "facilitating circles, organizing pre-conferences, and even training younger students." When he talked to students about recording an interview about the blog, Sophomore Savannah Iverson stepped in and offered to write a 3-part series. From


  • Ted Wachtel's keynote from the 2011 European Congress on the Family Group Conference: Democratizing Help and Welfare in Utrecht, the Netherlands, October 19-21, 2011:

    Restorative Practices: Creating a Unified Strategy for Democratizing Social Care, Education and Criminal Justice

    I’d like to tell you about the first Family Group Conference story that I ever heard. I heard it in 1994 from an Australian police officer named Terry O’Connell. Terry was traveling around the world on a Winston Churchill Fellowship and he came to where I live in the U.S., in Pennsylvania. When he told this story I was deeply moved. It touched my heart. So much so that Terry said he remembered me because I was the person sitting in


  • From the radio program, Issues Today with Bob Gourley, during the episode airing the week of October 3 - 9, 2011, IIRP President Ted Wachtel discusses SaferSanerSchools and how restorative practices are being applied in the field of education. Listen to the seven-minute interview here