While emerging research shows promise for school transformation, there are also studies and ongoing questions about why so many whole-person school initiatives (restorative and trauma-informed practices, culturally responsive teaching, social and emotional learning, etc.) vary so widely in their implementation outcomes. When practitioners rely on packaged programs and speedy rollouts as ways to change schools and districts, their overemphasis on technical elements (programs, policies, interventions) and consistent de-emphasis of adaptive (mindsets, values, beliefs) and relational elements (relationships, social capital, belonging) overwhelmingly contributes to implementation failures and shortcomings of whole-child and whole-school initiatives. Further, despite understanding change-work as inherently non-linear and human-centered, we design and apply it as linear and top-down, things we do to people, and not with them.
In response, the Center published an innovative toolkit for restorative practices implementation. This guide, titled “The Toolkit Before the Toolkit: Centering Adaptive and Relational Elements of Restorative Practices for Implementation Success,” highlights the mindsets, values, and social capital often overlooked but crucial to effective and sustainable implementation. The Center is also facilitating a 5-part collaborative series to support LEAs in their restorative practices implementation using the guide. This interactive series is designed for school, district, and regional/county level restorative practices practitioners, leaders, and coordinators to connect and use the guide as a framework for successful implementation. Series participants from around the country meet weekly to build community, unpack the different elements of successful restorative implementation, and collectively navigate existing and potential barriers. The collaborative is facilitated in ways that model and practice guide concepts as well as skill-build in circle-keeping and other restorative practices.
This collaborative ran from January 2022 to June 2022.