Student engagement, communication, listening, and collaboration all get a boost with restorative practices at Ada Elementary School. Students are more proactive, respectful of others’ thoughts, support one another in their learning environment, and much more. According to an article written by School News Network reporter Morgan Jarema: More and more school districts are using restorative practices as a proactive way to handle behavioral issues. At Ada Elementary, teachers have started to use them — and a practice called “accountable talk” — when teaching content. This is typically done with students sitting in a circle to discuss a topic. A “talking piece” is passed so only the student who holds it has permission to speak. Accountable talking prompts such as “Tell me more about” and “I respectfully disagree because” help students focus on what they want to share and develop conversational skills.
There also is the circle-within-a-circle format, or fishbowl, arranged so students on the perimeter can observe and make notes on those in the inner circle as they have a discussion or work to solve a problem.
“It’s been, I would say, a game-changer,” Principal Kim VanAntwerp said. “It’s been amazing. When they go back to work independently, they’ve thought it through so much better.”
Stacy Redmond, fourth-grade teacher, said there’s “been more engagement for sure, even for the most quiet, reserved kids. When you circle them up, it’s community building, teaching them how to communicate with one another and to be good citizens. I saw a difference on day one.”