On December 20th, 2016, thirty-one high school students were trained in Restorative Practices with the intention that they will serve on the Peer Intervention Council (PIC) at Twin Valley High School. The philosophy behind Restorative Practices is that human beings are happier, more productive and cooperative and more willing to make positive changes in their behavior when allowed to freely express emotions and engage with others in problem solving to resolve conflicts. Twin Valley is committed to building community in their schools in an effort to make school a safer place by reducing misbehavior and promoting strong interpersonal relationships. During the training, students became familiar with the Restorative philosophy which promotes the utilization of fair process and a desire to create open channels of communication by giving people reason to believe that their ideas and feelings truly are being taken into account. When people feel they are being treated fairly, they are more likely to cooperate willingly with the decisions that are made-even when the outcomes are different from the ones they may have preferred or desired (Costello, J. Wachtel, T. Watchtel 87).
The PIC training began with students watching a Youtube clip called the “Lost Generation.” It began by making negative assumptions about their generation. Half way through, the clip reverses these assumptions and challenges students to be individually accountable by making positive change in their community and personal life choices. Next, students became familiar with Restorative questions that help students in conflict be accountable for their actions and guides them through a dialogue to repair the harm done in order to move forward rather than hold a grudge or resent the outcome resulting from a conflict. Finally, the students in training were given hypothetical high school conflict scenarios and asked to role play, using the open ended restorative questions. By the end of the training, PIC students felt prepared to facilitate Restorative meetings involving minor conflicts amongst their peers.
The Twin Valley High School principals are excited to have this first group of students trained to serve on the Peer Intervention Council (PIC). The establishment of PIC is one more way that Twin Valley is striving to create positive school climate by building community and offering opportunities to repair harm and develop stronger interpersonal relationships. When students feel connected and have a voice, they are less likely to engage in misbehavior because they feel a part of the community. To learn more about Restorative Practices for to www.iirp.edu.