The field of restorative practices in schools has experienced a great growth spurt in the last few years. Books are being printed, websites set up, tool-kits developed; one could spend a day on YouTube reviewing training, testimonial and informational videos. The US Departments of Education and Justice recommend restorative practices. Districts that are now setting up teams read like a version of the tune,”This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land”: from New York to L.A., from Duluth to Texas, from Florida and north To Alaska, districts are in various stages of storming, forming or norming restorative practices. The field has gone from working with the advocate, the teacher or administrator to engaging entire systems with staff the size of small cities. Any size system, however, can be hard to move; any system might balk at the paradigm shift restorative practices requires. Any failure can be used as a reason to stop implementation. Working with students can become doing “to” or “for;” repairing harm can be skipped as taking too long. The question for this circle is, “How do restorative practice trainers, researchers and programs help systems scale up restorative approaches, both in spirit and in practice?”
This article was originally published in the Restorative Practices in Action Journal: for Schools and Justice Practitioners, 2015, New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice form Children.