15 October, 2011

3 Tiers of Restorative practices

I came across this diagram explaining three levels of intervention as it applies to the use of Restorative Practices.

For those involved in School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support or PBIS, this diagram will be very familiar!!

It is really the same idea as the triangle of universal, secondary and tertiary SWPBS interventions.

In simple terms, the three ties of intervention using restorative practices are as follows:
  • School-Wide Prevention Practices include the
    • use of affective statements
    • extensive use of circles for a wide range of everyday purposes
    • and all the SWPBS universal interventions
  • Managing Difficulties includes
    • the use of the restorative questions
    • more use of circles focused on existing and/or emerging issues with selected students
    • restorative meetings
  • Intense Intervention includes
    • restorative conferences
The diagram is from Restorative Justice - a working guide for our schools - a sound, easy-to-read guide to implementing what some call "restorative practices" at the school or school district level.

30 September, 2011

What is it that Restorative Practices actually restore?

Recently I have been pondering the question:
  • What is it that restorative practices actually restore?
Obviously there are lots of possible answers to this question. For example, a school that was using Martin Seligman's approach to Well-Being would use restorative practices to restore the 5 main elements (PERMA) that contribute to success and well-being, namely,
  1. Positive Emotions – experiencing joy and pleasure
    • While the outcomes of bad experiences are the opposites of joy or pleasure, it is important for people to ultimately feel more positive after dealing with the bad things that they have done, or have been done to them. 
    • Unfortunately, some traditional approaches leave people who have caused harm to others in the state of feeling bad (shamed) about what they have done as 'logical consequence'. However this is likely to result in on-going disengagement, resentment and other limiting factors.
    • Similarly, traditional approaches often fail to address the emotional needs of the person who has been harmed so that they continue to feel bad about what has been done to them
  2. Engagement (or flow) – being consciously involved in our activities
    • Managed disengagement (isolation, suspension...) is also often seen as a 'logical consequence' of doing the wrong thing but this reduces the likelihood of productive  engagement
  3. Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others
    • Damaged relationships are very often a result of wrong doing. Failing to restore damaged relationships is likely to result in a long term state of reduced success and wellbeing
  4. Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives; being engaged with or serving something larger than ourselves
    • Having been harmed, or having caused harm to others, changes our personal narratives for the worse. Experiencing restoration of positive emotions, engagement, relationships... helps to restore constructive meaning in our lives.
  5. Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.
    • Those who have been harmed, or caused harm, are likely to experience a sense of failure. If unresolved this is likely to reduce a person's subsequent capacity to achieve and act in ways that better match their own core values.
Clearly restorative practices provide rich ways of restoring each of the five elements of Well-Being.

What is your school's answer to this important question?

31 July, 2011

Well-being Theory - Positive Education

Authentic Happiness - revised

Martin Seligman has revised his Authentic Happiness theory (2002) on the basis that it over-emphasised feeling good.

In his latest book Flourish he has outlined his Well-Being Theory as follows

Well-being is a construct, and well-being (not happiness) is the topic of positive psychology.

There are five measurable elements (PERMA) that contribute towards well-being:
  • Positive Emotions – experiencing joy and pleasure
  • Engagement (or flow) – being consciously involved in our activities
  • Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others
  • Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives; being engaged with or serving something larger than ourselves
  • Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.
Follow this link for more on Positive Education.


  1. Consider three students with whom you work: one high status/high achiever; one average; one who is in difficulties. Rate each student on a scale of 1-10 for each of the measurable elements.  What common beliefs does this reveal, confirm, challenge?
  2. Retiring? Returning to work or study? Changing employment? How are each of the PERMA elements likely to change? And what might you need to attend to?

And Martin Seligman introduces Positive Psychology in a TED Talk

25 July, 2011

Explicit teaching & positive reinforcement of expectations

One school's example

The expectations of Tasmania's Evandale Primary School are based on PURRing! Students are explicitly taught to P.U.R.R.
  • Perseverance
    • By always trying our best and taking pride in our achievement.  
    • Learn all we can by listening, participating and completing work on time
  • Understanding
    • For each other, being courteous, cooperative and friendly
  • Respect
    • Our school - by keeping classrooms and grounds clean, tidy and free of litter, vandalism, graffiti.  
    • Respect other people - their feelings, personal space and property
  • Responsibility
    • Care for our equipment.  
    • Follow established classroom rules and routines.  
    •  Work, move and play safely
Students receive recognition of positive behaviour with PURR points:
  • 20 = icy pole; 
  • 40 = classroom book; 
  • 60 = small prize; 
  • 80 = passport to help out in another class; 
  • 100 = recognition morning tea.
This positive reinforcement scheme is a nice example of using "free and frequent" reinforcement to build a continuum of recognition.
Thanks to Deb Rigby at Evandale for sharing her school's great practice!

24 March, 2011

#2 - Emotional Literacy

This is the second of eight discussion starters covering aspects of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).

Emotional Literacy
Given that we are social and emotional beings it is somewhat paradoxical that Emotional Literacy is perhaps one of the least considered aspects of SEL.

Schools teach values, social skills, habits of mind and thinking skills in order to improve behaviour and learning. But all these are informed and shaped by the emotional literacy of those involved (staff, students, their families, their communities....)

Emotional Literacy and our most challenging students
Think of some of the most challenging students in your school
Q1.  How well do they understand the emotional experience of those around them?
Q2.  How well do they understand, manage and respond to their own emotions?

And what about low achievers who are depressed and/or give up too soon?

For more about emotional literacy go Emotional Literacy

#1 - Introducing SEL

In a recent role, I became acutely aware of how confusing the area of social and emotional learning (SEL) can be !! Is it social skills, or values, or a specific program ....

There are numerous programs and recommended approaches that imply they have the answer. If only it was that simple !!

Mapping SEL in your school

In response, I have tried to map and relate the various approaches being used in a range of schools. The result is an (interim) framework that may be useful, even if it is not simple!!

Over the next several weeks I will share my thinking in ways that might be useful for inschool professional learning, e.g., discussion groups.

Week 1 - Five basic Ideas underpinning the possible SEL Framework

1. We are all social and emotional beings
2. We promote social and emotional learning in all our interactions
3. There is a wide range of pedagogies available for teaching SEL
4. The outcomes of social and emotional learning are improved with

  • Emotional literacy
  • Social skills
  • Habits of mind
  • Thinking (and expectations)
5. These four dimensions of SEL overlap, support and complement each other

For more on this topic, see  Introducing SEL - this page may be useful as handout or discussion starter

Let me know what you think.

23 February, 2011

Restorative Practice and Peer Mediation

Numerous approaches to Peer Mediation
Obviously, there are numerous approaches to support student problem solving and associated peer mediation skills. Most rely on the school identifying, training and equipping, and deploying suitable students.
And there are numerous schools around the world that have been able to extend the use of Restorative Practices to include peer mediation. In building  their school as a community, they have worked to involve everyone in Restorative Practices: staff, students, their families and the wider community.

These schools have explicitly trained students in the use of small circles and  the restorative questions as part of establishing a restorative culture across the school and its community. They have then created some level of peer mediation by training and encouraging the students to use small circles and the RP questions in real everyday situations to make better responses to the situations that arise.

Peer mediation is not new 
But promoting Peer Mediation is not a new, separate, isolated endeavour. In almost all circles that work well , many students already do a great deal of 'peer mediation'  - probably more than they realise. So just pointing this out (making it explicit) can be useful. If we know about the good things we can do, then this generally increases our capacity and willingness to do more of them.

Peer mediation by everyone? 
Training does not need to begin with selected students. "Helping to resolve peer issues" might be a great topic for a class circle. The social and emotional learning that will result is likely to enable many students to take positive action when things go wrong.

For example, bullying rarely occurs without an extensive range of bystanders. To reduce bullying it makes sense to enable, support and encourage 
  • bullies to better understand the implications of their actions
  • bullies to repair the harm done, and
  • all bystanders to make more constructive responses. 

Clearly this is the very kind of activity for which Restorative Practices has been developed.
It would be interesting to see what might emerge if, say playground/classroom mediators were elected by their peers. Worth a try?

Restorative Practices as a springboard from Peer Mediation
So if your school is developing a restorative culture there numerous possibilities just from Restorative Practices alone. And, of course, then there are other sources of ideas, processes and practices relating to Peer Mediation.

07 January, 2011

Solution Focus - an educational approach to school improvement

Are you exploring the possible contributions of adopting a Solution Focus (SF) approach to the life and work of your school? If so,  the following background thinking may be useful to you as the  proponent, facilitator and/or principal as you work with staff, students, their families and the school's leadership team, and community:

1. Education, especially remedial education, is often problem (deficit) focused 

2. Most quality teaching and learning is solution focused hence the value of
     - working on what's working (WOWW) and doing more of it
     - trying something different for those things that are not working
     - working with those involved (rather than on or for them)
     - ...

3. SF is a learning process - a very useful and practical pedagogy in its own right that can be used directly with a wide range of students in a wide range of situations.

4. A Solution focused workshop will model SF as a pedagogy - however this may be need to be made explicit to the participants
     - In what ways, has our workshop been a learning experience?
     - In what ways might you use similar steps with your students?
     - ...

5. Solutions are about achieving increased success and well-being now, and in the future - these are the two outcomes that count!!

6. Success and well-being are personal, social, emotional and cultural experiences (not just a matter of academic and behavioural compliance)

7.Thus, quality education is a complex multi-level social endeavour
     - involving the respectful collaboration of teachers and individual students, staff, classes, families and the community
     - attending to significant purposes,
     - using productive pedagogies,
     - building respectful relationships and a richer more supportive school community 

8. SF is relatively 'simple' strategy yet it addresses these dimensions and thus supports quality education

9. At the same time, problems in schools are real and often required prompt attention:
    - serious problems need to be contained and resolved asap
    - all problems need to be reduced and, if possible, prevented
    - those involved need to participate and contribute to these outcomes

10. It is likely that a Solution Focused workshop will reveal the need for on-going attention to be given to
    - improved pedagogies, including SF approaches
    - improved social and emotional learning
    - improved 'behaviour management' (see 9 above), for example, restorative practices (here)
    - increasing the school's focus on solutions, e.g., here

For some schools and some staff this last point represents a challenging paradigm shift* ("old habits die hard"). AS well as being challenged they may need some on-going support.. It will mean working WITH (rather than working ON or working FOR) students.

And that is exactly what will be modelled in a well-led workshop using an SF approach in the .

* Footnote: Years ago I was skilled  at dealing with the problems  in my school. When problems arose I usually dealt with most of them promptly and well.  But then I noticed that I was solving the same problems time and time again. I realised I was just carrying out effective counter measures - containing the situations that arose and resolving events as if they occurred in isolation. I wasn't really focusing on genuine improvements and lasting solutions.

Fortunately Solution Focus now offers a substantial body of knowledge to address this almost universal challenge.