Restorative Practices in Schools

Achieve lasting school climate change with the International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School’s intensive, cost-effective two-year implementation program. The SaferSanerSchools™ program achieves 100% staff participation in restorative practices and reliably produces positive outcomes, which start to occur at the very outset of implementation. Built-in assessment mechanisms and a solid sustainability program achieves organizational change.

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of West Philadelphia High School

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Beyond Zero Tolerance


Program OverviewProgram ActivitiesCurrent Projects

SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change Program

A cost-effective way to achieve lasting change that enhances and builds relationships between students, staff and parents, improves student behavior, reduces violence and bullying and creates a sense of community.

Comprehensive Two-Year School Implementation Program

Unlike piecemeal efforts using varied approaches that lack an explicit focus, IIRP helps school leadership and staff develop a customized plan based on their own needs and goals. Everyone on the school staff has a say and a role in implementation. Several staff are selected and trained as professional development instructors to ensure program sustainability. Activities include:

  • On-site professional development
  • Organizing staff “professional learning groups”
  • Regular follow-up phone meetings
  • Assistance with evaluation
11 Essential Elements

The Whole-School Change Program involves 11 Essential Elements, including affective statements, restorative questions, fair process, small impromptu conferences, proactive circles, responsive circles and restorative conferences. Staff teams, working in small professional learning groups, focus on understanding and using these elements.

Apply Professional Development Toward Graduate Credit

Another unique feature of this program is that all of our professional development days can be applied to graduate coursework at the IIRP Graduate school. This is an attractive benefit to your staff who can chose to supplement the in-school instruction with 12 hours of online coursework to earn graduate school credit.

Bringing Restorative Practices to Your School

The IIRP has a wide range of existing relationships and approved vendor status designations around the country. This might include your school district, simplifying the budgeting and approval processes for implementing restorative practices. Contact us for more information.

Experienced IIRP instructors help the school leadership and staff develop a customized plan based on its own needs that include the following activities.

Implementation: Year 1 Activities

Distance Preparatory Activities
  • Create customized online web space to support staff implementation and learning activities.
  • Collect baseline data from school discipline records and other relevant information.
Four Days of Onsite Professional Development for Staff
  • Introduction to Restorative Practices — Basic restorative concepts and skills.
  • Using Circles Effectively — How to use circles for a broad range of behavioral and academic purposes.
  • Facilitating Restorative Conferences — How to facilitate structured meetings that effectively respond to wrongdoing.
  • Family Engagement — How to effectively engage and empower families using restorative practices.
Implementation Startup Session
  • Staff members form professional learning groups (PLGs).
  • PLGs provide ongoing collaboration between the administration and staff in achieving effective implementation.
Follow-up Activities
  • Hold monthly in-depth phone calls with leadership, also with staff groups as needed.
  • Schedule onsite consulting days in consultation with school.

Implementation: Year 2 Activities

Continuing Calls with Leadership and Staff Groups
  • Scheduled as needed to sustain implementation momentum.
  • Will focus on deepening implementation of restorative practices to 100% of staff.
Onsite Professional Development and Consulting Days
  • Schedule the remainder of the four professional development days not completed in first year.
  • Focus on skills refinement, increased sustainability and self-management.
  • Use ongoing evaluation to update criteria and inform consultation.
Sustainability Plan
  • Support explicit planning for sustained implementation.
  • Institutionalize and embed restorative practices as part of school staff’s vocabulary and daily life.
Training of Trainers
  • Select staff to be trained to provide restorative practices professional development for new hires.
  • License and train those staff to utilize IIRP’s proprietary materials, presentations, “scripts” and videos.
Research projects underway
  • Sixteen schools in Maine are implementing the SaferSanerSchools program as part of a five-year randomized controlled study by the RAND Corporation, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to measure the effectiveness of restorative practices in influencing school environments and decreasing problem behaviors. Data collection begins in school year 2014-2015.
  • The Atlantic Philanthropies is funding a randomized controlled study by Johns Hopkins University School of Education on the effectiveness of restorative practices on school climate and discipline in 16 middle and high schools nationwide, including Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn, New York; San Antonio, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • With funding from a federal grant by the National Institute of Justice, the most extensive restorative practices school implementation project to date, “Pursuing Equitable Restorative Communities,” will implement restorative practices in half of Pittsburgh’s fifty public schools, with approximately 10,000 students.
Other school districts and schools that have implemented the SaferSanerSchools whole-school change program include:
  • San Francisco Unified School District (California)
  • Philadelphia School District (Pennsylvania)
  • Newark School District (New Jersey)
  • Bethlehem Area School District (Pennsylvania)
  • Baltimore City Schools (Maryland)
  • Plymouth Educational Center (Detroit, Michigan)
  • Toronto District School Board (Ontario, Canada)