Restorative Justice Practices

Restorative Justice Practices 
At IVA, our approach for supporting the social-emotional, behavioral, and discipline needs of our students is a restorative model. The restorative model promotes the intellectual and moral development of students in conflict through accountability, reflection, and the nurturing of relationships. Conflict is natural and likely to occur when people with diverse opinions and experiences unite. Restorative practices view conflict as an opportunity to foster meaningful learning experiences and strengthen relationships. Restorative models differ from traditional punitive responses in that the goal is to restore community, relationships, and school connectedness. We try not to implement quick fixes if we believe we have the opportunity to do the hard work that could create long-term change. While we are trying to help our students build trust with each other, it is important that our students and families also trust us and we will work hard to find opportunities to build that trust with you. A restorative justice model thrives on our commitment to relationships and personal growth through the interventions of our community. IVA uses the process outlined below as an opportunity for students to practice thinking and learning virtues in social dynamics.

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Source: Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools 

Communicating Home
Confidentiality: IVA acknowledges that families and students often want to be reassured that action has been taken or justice has been served after a harmful incident or conflict, however in our restorative model IVA seeks to maintain the confidentiality and dignity of all students. Personal student discipline interventions are not shared with other families.


Applying Restorative Justice Practices at IVA

Prevention: A safe and welcoming culture

  • Teachers and staff clearly describe behavioral expectations and invite students to participate in creating classroom norms to allow their voices to help shape the campus culture
  • Teachers and staff receive ongoing training from CCEJ, local non-profit California Conference for Equality and Justice, as well as participate in regular professional conversations around the practices and the principles, postures, and practices in a restorative model
  • Teachers design content and instruction to create a culture of thinking marked by active engagement with big content questions and opportunities that foster meaningful growth in intellectual character virtues in a thoughtful, challenging, and supportive academic environment
  • IVA's Advisory program's curriculum equips students with close and safe relationships, discussion of culture creation, opportunities for personal reflection and goal-setting in a smaller, non-graded setting
  • Full time counselor and behavior support team listen, seek to understand, and bring students together
  • Teachers and staff learn together with ongoing development to implement restorative practices into our mission and vision to authentically engage the world with curiosity and thoughtfulness, to know themselves, and to live well.

Interventions: A whole child community response

  • Community class circles that aim to engage students in collaborative problem solving
  • 1:1 or group restorative conversations to find a resolution to new or ongoing conflict
  • Prioritizing school and home collaboration to create an open line of communication
  • Implement careful consequences and additional support for students struggling to maintain behavior expectations
Behavior Policies
Student behavior support at IVA begins in positive support and culture and involves multiple facets of support that include school staff, teachers, parents, and students.
 
We view behavior support and discipline as an important opportunity to encourage thinking habits in our students so that they can learn from mistakes and understand appropriate behavior as well as the consequences for our actions. At Orientation, our students will be presented with the Student Handbook, which outlines our community expectations that can be summarized in this idea: everything we do should support thinking and learning. Please note - IVA's focus on learning opportunities should not be mistaken for an unresponsive discipline process. IVA is responsive to individual behavior concerns as well as committed to helping students process the sort of conflicts that are normal at this stage in their lives. When negative behavior crosses the line of safety on campus we utilize our thorough Suspension and Expulsion Policy that is aligned with state and federal expulsion laws.
 
One element of our discipline process is to hold Restorative Conversations, which are adopted from restorative practices. Please see our handout below to learn more.
 
It is IVA's aim to create the most positive, least disruptive learning environment for our students. We serve middle school students and this age brings with it all the complications of growth and development, this is a tough time in the lives of kids. The combination of the age of our students and our role as a public school to serve all students means that we cannot promise an environment free from disruptions but we can commit to minimizing the seriousness and frequency of disruptions caused by student misbehavior through our school's policies. In order to prioritize learning at IVA, we take very seriously any distraction that might stop our students from being provided a positive learning environment. It is a part of our model of education to capitalize as best we can on mistakes, failures, struggles, and other "disruptions" as, potentially, teachable moments.