The participation of elementary school teachers in restorative practices : enhancing community and connectedness




Carney, Philip Ryan

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Many issues confront educational leaders as they attempt to provide their students with equitable access to high quality educational experiences. One such challenge is creating the type of workplace conditions that lead to greater levels of teacher job satisfaction and lower levels of teacher isolation. A potential solution that has emerged is restorative practices (RP) which are being used to build a sense of community and connectedness among students and which might also be shown to enhance teachers’ sense of community. However, given its limited application with teachers, research was needed to explore the extent to which RP may positively contribute to the work-place conditions experienced by teachers. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how the use of RP by elementary school teachers with other campus teachers and stakeholders contributed to their sense of connectedness and community. The study’s participants consisted of five teachers, one counselor, and one campus administrator at a south Texas elementary school. Each participant engaged in one semi-structured interview and the data were analyzed to understand the perspectives of teachers using restorative practices with their colleagues. Findings indicated that the use of RP contributed to the relational connectedness of teachers through enhancing the closeness they experienced with their colleagues and through improving their capacity as communicators. Additionally, the findings showed that RP use contributed to the teachers’ sense of community by promoting bonding among campus teams and generating a positive culture across the campus. Educational leaders and researchers may consider the benefits of RP and how to use such practices to improve job satisfaction among teachers, enhance a sense of connectedness and community among all stakeholders, and provide students with equitable access to the experienced teachers needed to produce successful outcomes


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