Creating Restorative Culture in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers


We teach who we are.

Whatever we believe on the inside, shows through somewhere in our external behavior.  Can you ask of your students more than you ask of yourself?

The Golden Rule = Social Emotional Learning

It’s not just for students.

  • Ask, “Do I treat my students and colleagues the way I wish to be treated—even when I am not being treated that way?”
  • Use real, live, in the moment incidents—or situations from the lessons—as teachable moments.


Do the students feel fully welcomed and wanted in the classroom?

  • Greet each student at the door as they enter.
  • Do you care how they are today? Allow the students to check-in before beginning class.
  • Create a physical space that is inviting and welcoming.
  • Arrange desks differently to encourage connection.

Student’s Ideas

Do they matter?

  • Do the opinions and desires of the students matter in my classroom?
  • What do the students want their classroom to look like, feel like…when they are there?
  • What do the students consider their “job” to be as students in your classroom?  And what do they consider your “job” to be as their teacher?  Can you reach an agreement together?
  • Ask students what is important to them to learn about within the context of the subject you are there to teach.
  • Adapt material to include what is important to them, as well as to you or to the State.
  • Allow flexibility in the classroom agenda.  Follow the path of curiosity.


Why should they learn this stuff?

  • Explore with students ways in which the material is relevant in their “real” lives.
  • Challenge them to seek ways the material is relevant “out there” and report to class.
  • Provide time and opportunity for each student to “teach” from their experiences and area of interest within the subject.
  • Utilize the technologies they use everyday (iPods, cell phones/texting, podcasts, wikis, etc.)

Discipline and Disruptive Students

Honor the dignity of the student and therefore the dignity of yourself

  • Ask questions!  (Privately if this demonstrates needed respect.)
  • What is the disruption about?
  • What do they need right now?
  • What do they wish to accomplish and is it working?
  • When appropriate, ask the class how it is affecting them.
  • When appropriate, require the student and/or class to identify the harm being caused and ask the student what he/she is going to do about it.
  • If the offense is extreme and calls for being sent to the Principal, require that the student identify the harm caused and take measures to make amends before returning.


Honoring yourself

  • What is inside of you that is being hooked?  What do you believe that leads to this response?
  • What are you going to do about it?
  • Do you need to be heard?  Can you be real with your students or colleagues about your needs?