Middle school students at Georgia are exploring peacemaking circles and conferencing models with a restorative plan for classrooms that have a student who is referred by a staff member for a violation of school rules.
By definition, restorative measures represent a philosophy and a process that acknowledges that when a person does harm, it affects the persons they hurt, the community and themselves. Using restorative measures, an attempt is made to repair the harm caused by one person to another and to the community so that everyone can return to a safe, responsible and respectful learning environment.
Restorative models provide schools the opportunity to improve school culture by addressing the school-wide expectations and creating a forum for peaceful conflict resolution. Through support for restorative justice, our goal is to amplify peace in our schools and communities.
Middle school enrichment teacher Sandra Moulton has been working with students in her service learning class Restorative Justice. After weeks of learning the purpose and understanding the role of restorative justice, 7th and 8th grade students were then able to participate using a foundational component of the process, which a circle discussion format. In a 5th and 3rd grade classes, the service learning students initiated the process. Student leaders communicated the purpose of the circles, the guidelines, and the goals. This experience for both student leaders and the classes was extremely positive and both groups agreed to take the process to the next level going forward at GEMS.