Restorative Practices

The First Step to Personalized Learning


Every student, every day. But how? Sometimes the quest to personalize learning for every student seems daunting. Add to that the ever-present need to maximize learning time and reduce distractions, and it can leave teachers (and principals) feeling like it’s almost too much. That’s how we were feeling at Blackshear last spring; we were definitely in the learning pit! Our Behavior Action Team was working hard to redefine discipline and classroom management procedures, our counselors were writing curriculum for community circles based on the Profile of a Learner and our core values, our specialists were working to build the perfect model for blended learning, and I was struggling to put together a master schedule that would support all of these endeavors. We knew the things that we valued and needed to do for our kids, but we weren’t sure how they all fit together.

Then, nearly 1100 students arrived on the first day of school. We began following our new schedule with a “fail-forward” mindset. Teachers began starting each day with community circles and the culture in the building immediately took on a light, happy, energetic vibe. Students and teachers were all learning about each other which created a feeling of acceptance and mutual respect. They worked together to create relationship agreements which has resulted in fewer office referrals. When students do come to the office, their behaviors are handled through restorative conversations and consequences which really prompt them to learn from their mistakes and become better Buffaloes moving forward.

Our conversations about students and learning are different because we really KNOW our students as people, which also allows us to better know them as learners. And suddenly, personalized learning for every student not only seems attainable, but we have realized it’s already begun. Using a restorative approach has opened the door for personalized learning at our campus.