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Restorative Practices

What Are Restorative Practices?

Restorative Practices in schools are an approach to discipline and behavior management that focuses on repairing harm and restoring relationships rather than simply punishing students. This method emphasizes accountability, healing, and community building through open dialogue and mutual respect.
Our goal here at Los Alamos High School is to build a “culture of care,” through which students feel a sense of belonging, as well as have opportunities to work with staff and school leaders to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment.  

How Do Restorative Practices Help Our Students?

We believe that restorative practices fall neatly in line with our current Vision Statement and Core Values:

LAHS Vision
“The staff and students are the heart that makes us a community, not just a school.”

LAHS Core Values
Connect, Protect, Respect

In connection with these beliefs, restorative practices help in the following areas:

  • Enhanced School Climate:
    • Promotes a positive, inclusive, and respectful environment.
    • Encourages strong, supportive relationships between students and staff.
  • Reduced Disciplinary Issues:
    • Decreases suspension and expulsion rates.
    • Reduces incidents of bullying and violence.
  • Improved Academic Outcomes:
    • Creates a safer, more focused learning environment.
    • Helps students stay engaged and succeed academically.
  • Personal Growth and Development:
    • Teaches students essential life skills like empathy, communication, and problem-solving.
    • Encourages personal responsibility and accountability.
  • Stronger Community Connections:
    • Fosters a sense of belonging and community within the school.
    • Involves families and community members in the restorative process.

Three Tiers of Restorative Practices

Tier 1:  Community Building Circles allow students build and strengthen relationships through moderated conversations.  Circles are powerful tools in promoting equity, as everyone has the opportunity to be heard and to actively listen to others.

Tier 2: Restorative Conversations help to mediate conflicts when they occur, giving student the chance to learn from mistakes and repair any harm done.  It is important for each party involved in the conflict to have a chance to be heard.  In traditional discipline, parties are often defined as offender and victim.  However, many times, harm is done to both parties, which leads to the conflict.  Hearing both sides of the story can lead to empathy and compassion, rather than just punishment. 

Tier 3: Restorative Conferences are held to mitigate major conflicts or wrong-doing that threaten the safety of students or the school.  This is a very involved process that often involves parents and other staff members.

Traditional Discipline vs. A Restorative Approach

Implementation of restorative practices in our school presents a mindshift in the traditional model of discipline and behavior management:

Traditional Approach Restorative Approach
  1. School rules are broken.
  1. People and relationships are harmed.
  1. Justice focuses on establishing guilt.
  1. Justice identifies needs and responsibilities.
  1. Accountability = Punishment
  1. Accountability = Understanding impact/repairing of harm.
  1. Justice directed at the offender; victim is not addressed.
  1. The person who caused harm, the person who was harmed, and the school all have direct roles in the justice process.
  1. Rules and intent outweigh wether outcome is positive or negative
  1. The person who caused harm is responsible for harmful behavior, repairing harm, and working toward positive outcomes.
  1. Limited opportunities for expressing remorse or making amends.
  1. Opportunity given to make amends and rebuild relationship.


What Does the Research Tell us?

Our Goals:

Additional Resources:
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