For the last four years I have taught at schools who have approached behaviour from a restorative process. The focus of our roles as teachers isn’t to punish wrong deeds but get children to understand the harm their actions have caused and work towards ‘putting things right.’
The process can be broken down into four parts with a handy acronym – WARM.
What happened – giving everyone in a situation a chance to be heard.
Affected – who has been affected? How have they been affected?
Repair – what actions need to happen to repair the damage?
Move forward – what needs to happen so that this situation doesn’t happen?
I often have a series of question starters with me when I am faced with difficult situations or find myself losing patience with a situation.
One week I spent an inordinate amount of time sorting out low-level problems that the kids in my class. I was getting frustrated mostly because these problems were ones the kids could easily sort out by themselves either by having a bystander intervene or the kids in the disagreement trying to negotiate a solution.
Then I realised part of the problem was that the kids didn’t have the tools to sort out their problems. So I taught them the process of having a restorative chat and it was a ‘lightbulb moment’ for all involved.
- A lot of the children hadn’t made the connection that the talks they were having me were about fixing situations. They thought it was about them being ‘in trouble.’ When the process was laid out for them, the chats became a lot easier.
- Many of the children wanted to intervene to help in disagreements but didn’t know how. Seeing a child who at the start of the year was one of my ‘frequent chatters’ actually step up and help sort out a conflict was a real highlight.
- One child asked to take a handout home to show the family how disagreements could be handled.
This year I will start the year with teaching the children the process and hope to keep refreshing the principles as we head into pressure points in the year for the children and me!