Restorative Practices: Definition, Types, and Benefits

Estimated read time 7 min read

Maintaining discipline at school, and understanding its importance is an indispensable part of education singapore. Over the years, teachers have begun to adopt different means to ensure their students’ understanding of discipline evolves with the times. Schools know and understand that punishment is not the answer. Instead, educators need to teach students skills that will help improve their behaviour. It is one of the reasons many Singapore international schools bank on restorative practices as a new and improved way to better student behaviour.

What is restorative practice?

Restorative practice is a teaching-learning approach that nurtures students into becoming more respectful and empathetic in their outlook and behaviour. A restorative approach emphasises creating, maintaining, and reinstating positive relationships, especially when students are involved in incidents of wrongdoing or interpersonal conflict.

Restorative practices focus on community participation and learning to repair harm. private secondary school in singapore deploy restorative practices centred around cultivating a respectful, inclusive, and positive school environment. To achieve this, teachers must develop good relationships with their pupils built on a strong foundation of empathy, trust and mutual respect. Schools need to provide their students a safe and unbiased space to discuss without fear of judgement, adopt flexible coping mechanisms, and develop healthy mindsets. 

The basic concept of restorative practice includes the following:

  • Shifting to reflective learning – Getting students to reflect on their mistakes instead of chiding them, making them accountable and realising the meaning of apologising for any misdeeds instead of punishing them.
  • Creating awareness – Making students more mindful of how their actions resulted in the problem.
  • Healing process – Encourage community participation to help students become more empathetic, accept their wrong behaviour, and make amends for it.

How to Implement Restorative Practices in Your School? 

Building relationshipsThe teachers need to start by building relationships with their students to understand their social and emotional mindset. They can do this through daily meetings and by setting the instructional day’s focus and tone. 

Goal Setting Teachers can involve students as a part of the goal-setting process as a restorative practice. It allows students to take ownership of their academic and social areas of improvement and set actionable and realistic steps to work towards their individual goals. This activity allows teachers and students to track their progress and refocus on the things they require.  

Conflict management If a student has displayed unacceptable behaviour, the offended student should be made to share how the offence made them feel. It will help the offender realise how their behaviour impacted others and understand the other person’s perspective. However, teachers must ensure it is done subtly to avoid further conflict or hurting the emotions of the offender, resulting in worsening the situation.

Self-reflectionFinally, there is immense restorative power in getting a student (who made an unacceptable choice) to reflect on their behaviour. They should be made to address specific questions such as:

I. What choice did I make?

II. How did my choice affect others?

III. Could I have taken an alternative route in this situation?

IV. If the situation arises again, would I make the same choice? Why or why not?

What are the types of restorative practices?

There are two types of restorative practices – formal and informal.

1. Informal Restorative Practices

Informal restorative practices are simple, impromptu and low-key practices in which school staff and educators can help create a positive environment. It includes strategies that focus on the behaviour rather than the person.

  • Using ‘I’ statements to talk about feelings and focusing on how others’ behaviours can impact a person.
  • Effectively questioning the student who caused harm so they can stop and reflect on the consequences of their actions.
  • Other informal restorative practices include positive engagement with students and families, community service, mentoring relationships, and lunchtime table talks.

Informal restorative practices move beyond questions like ‘What did you do?” or “Why did you do that?

  • What happened?
  • What was going on in your mind at the time?
  • What have you thought about since the incident?
  • Who has been affected by your actions or behaviour, and how?
  • What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

2. Formal restorative practices

While the aim of restorative practices is the same, formal ones are a bit more structured.

I. Circles: This approach involves the entire class forming a circle and interacting. It allows everyone to speak in a safe environment and promotes inclusiveness. Circles can be used for discussing challenging issues, celebrating successes etc.

II. Social-emotional learning (SEL): This enables students to calm themselves when they resolve conflicts, feel angry, make friends, and make choices. Some SEL skills include establishing positive relationships, recognising and managing emotions, caring for others, making responsible decisions and handling difficult situations.

III. Conflict resolution programs: Guide students about how to manage conflict, diffuse heated situations, reduce the chances of post-conflict retaliation, and repair hurt feelings.

IV. Peer mediation: This practice calls students to take responsibility for their actions and work together to resolve a fight. Mediators or trained students use a structured process to lead disputants.

What are the Benefits of Restorative Practices?

Restorative practices have numerous benefits:

Builds relationships

Restorative justice is vital for building and maintaining relationships between teachers, students, and administrators. Social and emotional learning strategies help teachers to foster great relationships with their students and show them that they are genuinely cared for. This trust-building and open communication are fundamental to effective education and well-being.

Strives to be respectful to all

Restorative practices help students respect different opinions and cultures and understand that everyone is different. People have different practices and beliefs, and children learn to acknowledge, appreciate and be more tolerant towards that.

Provides the opportunity for decision-making and equitable dialogue

Children feel responsible when they are considered while setting goals or planning class structures. It makes them more committed to achieving the end goal and feels responsible for their actions.

Involves relevant stakeholders

Restorative practices include everyone who is key to a student’s growth and development – teachers, staff, parents, classmates and children.

Encourages self-awareness

Students take responsibility and ownership of their actions and become more self-aware of the negative impact of their actions. Instead of shifting the blame, students understand where they were wrong and find positive ways to fix their mistakes.

Teaches students conflict resolution

Students learn how to address differences and problems through patience, communication and understanding rather than fighting. They are encouraged to talk about their feelings, figure out where they went wrong, find alternative solutions, remain calm, and apologise. These skills go a long way in life.

We at OWIS do not believe in harsh punishments or a punitive teaching style. Instead, we promote a positive mindset in students and teachers through restorative classroom practices. In ensuring that our students become socially responsible, it is necessary to arm them with the ability to solve problems, think critically, and work collaboratively with their peers.


How do you teach restorative practices in the classroom?

Teachers can teach restorative practices in the classroom by having constant dialogue with the young learners under their tutelage. Restorative conversations, class meetings, and circles help provide a safe environment to the student where everyone has an equal opportunity to speak. These practices build stronger relationships, encourage positive behaviour, reduce conflict, and promote the development of social and emotional skills.

What are some restorative activities?

Community-building circles, community service, norm setting, restorative and informal chats, Social-emotional learning (SEL), Conflict resolution programs, Peer mediation etc.

Why should schools use restorative practices?

Traditional and punitive practices are not practical, like restorative practices. Restorative practices can positively impact students’ mindsets and empower them to learn from improper choices, understand their negative impact, and grow personally to make sound decisions and resolve problems.

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