The Power of Restitution

sad girl

A friend shared this story with me, and it gave me goosebumps!  It’s such a perfect example of how things change when Restitution becomes the culture of a school.

A conflict occurred in the classroom, which ended with a student lashing out violently at another student, and then running out of the room.  A staff member followed the student, and found her huddled in a corner crying.  She sat down beside her, and asked if she could help.

The student sobbed that she was so angry at herself, because she had promised herself that she would not be a violent person, and now she had become that.  She cried that this wasn’t the person she wanted to be.

Imagine what a different conversation the teacher had with this student than the one we typically have in these kinds of situations!  Instead of the student being confronted on her inappropriate behaviour and given a consequence, they were able to talk about the kind of person she did want to be, and how she could still be that person.  Instead of forcing her through external means to try to teach her a lesson, they created a plan together for how she could fix this and restore herself to that person she wants to be.  When she returned to the classroom, she apologized and fixed the relationship, not because she was coerced to, but because she wanted to.

So often, we think that kids learn their lesson when they hang their heads and feel bad about what they have done.  But in this case, the student was energized, motivated, and stronger in the end.  Which do you shoot for when dealing with problems?  Which do you think teaches the better lesson?

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