“It’s the oldest new thing around! In other words, I’m grateful that such a powerful tradition is being brought (back) into the school system. A shift is needed, and this is definitely an integral part of it.” - ESL Instructor, ESI (English Studies Institute)


continuum of Restorative Practices

In schools, Restorative Practice/Approaches are multifaceted in nature. Restorative Practices include interventions when harm has happened, as well as practices that help to prevent harm and conflict by helping to build a sense of belonging, safety, and social responsibility in the school community.

Restorative practices range from informal to formal. On a restorative practices continuum, the informal practices include affective statements and questions that communicate peoples’ feelings, and allow for reflection on how their behavior has affected others. Impromptu restorative conferences and circles are somewhat more structured, while formal conferences require more elaborate preparation. Moving from left to right on the continuum, as restorative processes become more formal, they involve more people, require more planning and time, and are more structured and complete.

“Although a formal restorative process might have dramatic impact, informal practices have a cumulative impact because they are part of everyday life.” (Hanson, 2005)

Informal        Formal  

Restorative Statements

Restorative Questions (Impromptu dialogue)



Meetings / Conferences


Building/Sustaining Trusting Relationships among All Members of the School Community 

  • Community Circles: Culturally responsive structured circles to build connectedness and value/respect of differences.
    • Relationship building
    • Establishing values and behavior expectations
    • Check-in and check-out
    • Celebrations, recognition, achievements
    • Class progress (climate and academics)
  • Inclusive Decision Making: Fair Process involves those affected by decisions to be included in the decision making process to establish an inclusive culture of doing “WITH”.
  • Affective Language: Genuine expression of feelings and emotions in relation to specific behaviors and actions, affective language provides a structure for reinforcing desired behaviors and redirecting unwanted behaviors. 


Repairing Relationships & Restoring Community

  • Restorative Language and Conversations: A common, consistent language among the school community is a simple and effective approach to reinforce the core values of relationships, high expectations, responsibility and accountability.

    Restorative conversations follow a script that explores:

      • The quality of relationships.
      • Those impacted or affected by conflict or wrongdoing.
      • Potential resulting harms.
      • The needs of those involved.
      • Problem solving solutions to repair the harm and restore the community.

       Restorative conversations occur as:

    • Impromptu, across the entire school community
    • structured conversation in the classroom
  • Classroom Responsive Circle: A formal restorative tool that addresses patterns of disruptive behaviors negatively impacting the class learning environment and relationships.
  • Brief Restorative Intervention: A referral-based problem solving process which engages wrongdoers and those affected or harmed. Used where the harm is significant enough not to be resolved informally, but not so great that it requires a formal conference. 
  • Restorative Formal Conferencing: A structured formal process that involves students, parents, and staff. Wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions, those harmed are given a voice and agreements are made to address needs, repair harms and prevent future wrongdoing.
  • Re-entry Conferences: An intentional effort to reintegrate students back into the school and classroom after a counseling office referral or out of school suspension to re-establish connection with the community.


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Restorative Practices
Student, Family, and Community Support Department
727 Golden Gate Avenue, Floor 2
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 241-3030
Fax: (415) 241-6213

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Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District