Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice

Publication Date

Fall 2014


The release of new federal guidance for developing positive school climate and equitable discipline practices has created a window of opportunity for schools to revisit their approaches to developing the conditions for student achievement and success. (U.S. Department of Education, January 2014) Recent education leadership literature notes that many school districts’ current discipline policies do not lend themselves to more equitable access to learning opportunities and positive school experiences for many students. Recent education leadership literature suggests that restorative approaches to building positive school climate are more likely to lead to more equitable academic and social-emotional outcomes for students of color and students with special needs. This paper argues that such successes are outcomes of restorative approaches to building positive school climates that focus on the development of school connectedness and culturally responsive practice of educators. One of the greatest insights of the restorative movement in schools has been that positive climate and discipline outcomes, as well as academic achievement, will result from whole systems approaches to positive climate initiatives. Further, while recent discussion about restorative practices in schools has focused primarily on school discipline programs, developing fair and equitable school climates through the use of restorative approaches can only be accomplished by leveraging continuous improvement of whole school change efforts, as well as long-term investments in educator learning and development.



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