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Restorative Practices and the Intersection with DEI at Eagle Rock School

Restorative Practices and the Intersection with DEI at Eagle Rock School

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the adoption of Restorative Practices is a transformational journey that transcends traditional disciplinary approaches. At Eagle Rock School, these practices, guided by the Dean of Restorative Practices, Bibi Gnagno, intersect with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to create a profound impact on how conflicts are addressed and how healing is facilitated. 

Beyond “Right vs. Wrong”

Often, conflicts are often framed in terms of “right versus wrong,” leading to punitive measures such as suspension or expulsion for rule violations. However, Restorative Practices at Eagle Rock School challenge this binary perspective. Instead of assigning blame and punishment, we seek to understand what individuals truly need.

Restorative Practices are deeply rooted in the principles of equity. They acknowledge that not everyone comes from the same background or experiences and that factors like race, class, and sexual orientation play a significant role in shaping individuals' needs and perceptions. This approach compels educators and administrators to ask, "What does this person need to heal and grow?" instead of jumping to punitive actions.

The conventional "you broke this rule, you're kicked out" mentality is replaced with a more nuanced, holistic approach that considers the complexities of each student's background and experiences. Restorative Practices challenge punitive disciplinary methods and embrace a path that is invigorating yet undoubtedly complex to navigate.

The Healing Journey Must Be Holistic

One of the fundamental aspects of Restorative Practices is the commitment to addressing the root causes of conflicts, not just the symptoms. Often, issues are treated at the surface level, with the focus solely on the immediate problem. Restorative Practices, on the other hand, aim for holistic healing, acknowledging that each individual's journey is unique.

For instance, a conversation with a student may reveal a deeper truth when Restorative Practices are employed. Instead of simply reprimanding the student for their actions, they are encouraged to reflect on their own identities and how they relate to their peers. This includes considering unique identity pieces like being a first-generation American, identifying as transgender, having a large or small body, or being a non-native English speaker.

This approach underscores the idea that Restorative Practices are not based on labeling right and wrong but on understanding the holistic needs of all parties involved. It takes into account the reality that people have had different access to resources and, as a result, show up differently at the center of power. The intersection of equity and Restorative Practices compels individuals to open their minds and question their preconceptions.

Promoting Self-Awareness and Equity

Restorative Practices are more than just a way to address conflicts; they are a catalyst for personal growth and community building. They open the door for individuals to begin questioning the systems and structures that perpetuate inequality. This approach encourages self-reflection, helping students and staff acknowledge their own privileges and biases and challenging individuals to step outside of their identities.

Put simply, the intersection of DEI and Restorative Practices at Eagle Rock School is transformative. Restorative Practices replace punitive measures with understanding and support. By shifting the focus from right versus wrong to individual needs, and embracing the complexities of equity, it paves the way for a more inclusive and empathetic educational environment that we are exploring with open hearts and minds. As we strive to address not just symptoms but root causes, this approach promises to shape a future where healing and growth are at the core of education.