Granted Education

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Fighting at school: Restorative Justice Intervention

Posted by Granted Education on October 2, 2016 at 9:30 PM

Whack! Bang! Swoosh! It sounded like an episode of Batman, but the scene unfolded in the classroom. One of our boys had lost his temper and was acting out. I sent him outside to cool down, put on my detective hat and went about investigating what the hell happened here!


Have you experienced this heart-palpative type of moment in your classroom? Your mind races and thankfully I work in a collaborative classroom where my teaching partner was able to re-focus the class while I dealt with the situation.

It turned out that there was an incident in the playground that was unresolved and it came into the classroom after lunch was finished. Luckily for us, the kids are pretty good at filling us in on what had happened, or as the kids put it "narking", and the scenario became clearer. I asked each of the parties involved for their version of events ensuring each had an opportunity to express their point of view and feel like they were heard. This also gave me a good idea about what happened and "where their heads were at".


I asked each boy if it would be ok to have a restorative meeting with the other person so they could hear how you feel about the incident. They agreed and I also brought in the kids who gave recounts of the situation so they could be part of the resolution process. My Restorative Justice training helped ensure I had asked some key questions of each party. Here are a few of the questions I asked in this situation and I've included a quick reference card I have taken a photo of when I'm on the go in the glassroom.


To the person responsible

What were you thinking when *Angus asked you to leave him alone?

What were you hoping would happen after you pushed him?

Who do you think was affected by what you did?

What do you need to do to make things right?


To the person harmed

What did you think when it happened?

What was the worst of it for you?

What's needed to make things right?

This meeting was over and done in less than 10 minutes but each student had the opportunity to speak and respond (in turn). It resulted in the situation feeling resolved and a deeper understanding of how it escalated in the first place. *Tim apologised to *Angus (let's just use those names for the purpose of anonymity) for losing his temper and not moving away to calm down. Mutually agreed procedures were put in place to minimise or avoid the situation in the future.


If this was dealt with from a punitive standpoint, I believe it would have resulted in resentment and continued niggling from each party and the inclusion of parents.


It’s funny how the obvious solution is not always the selected one. I have been teaching for more than 13 years and this year is the first time I have attended a Restorative Justice PD session that really addressed conflict resolution effectively. I have used this technique every day since!


Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you respond? Was the situation resolved or was there fall out? Often times, the inclusion of parents into the restorative justice conference helps them resolve how they have been impacted by the situation (as nearly invariably, they are!).


Here’s a super-handy link that gives a great overview of Restorative Justice. We did our training through Margaret Thorsborne and she was amazing! Here’s a link to her site for a heap of resources.


I love it when you take the time to find out what happened rather than just being ‘reactional’ in the classroom. I use this process in my classroom everyday and it helps the kids take ownership of their behaviour so that it’s not seen as the teacher who punishes. Give it a go!

Have a fantastic day!

Vikki Grant


Categories: Behaviour management, Effective Teacher Practices

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