Educators Explore Restorative Practices Approach to Conflict Resolution

Brandon Weathers
Updated: June 10, 2019 06:37 PM

The Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program hosted the second annual workshop training educators on restorative practices. The school was named School of the Year in 2018 by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs.

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Restorative practices consultant for Mickelson Consulting Laraine Mickelson says the school's implementation of this philosophy played a big role in the achievement.

“I’m so incredibly proud of the work that they have been doing, and especially proud of the students at this school who have really embraced this idea of restorative philosophy, and it’s truly become their identity," Mickelson said. “They say, ‘we are a restorative school, this is how we handle conflict, this is how we handle harm at our school, and this is who we are.’ And it’s just an amazing thing to see in these students.”

Restorative practices addresses conflicts between students with open conversations which often take place sitting in a circle. Kids are asked to think about how their actions affected others and how to turn a conflict situation into a win-win.

Mickelson said the Cloquet school has been a pioneer for the practice within the state, which has been a leader among the nation. “The state of Minnesota is a model actually, along with a few other states as well, that are really embracing this idea of, what is restorative practices in a school system, what does it look like in a justice system, and certainly, throughout the world as well, this philosophy is really moving and deepening throughout the world.”

The Boys and Girls Club has also been implementing restorative practices. Olivia Krenz with the Lincoln Park Club said they started the approach 2 years ago. “Before that, we had what we called a strike system. Basically, 3 strikes and you’re out, which we found was not effective. When you send the kids out, that’s not addressing the behavior. They come back to the Club, and the next day could be the same thing.”

Krenz said they've seen huge improvements with the kids' behavior and relationships since applying restorative practices. "It’s made our staff and our youth a lot closer, and the members together are just able to talk with each other and connect.”


Brandon Weathers

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