Not long ago, when students became entangled in a classroom dispute, it resulted in a trip to the principal’s office and some form of punishment. Education has evolved since then.
Classroom teachers now have methods of conflict resolution at their disposal that do not require punitive measures. One of the most powerful is called restorative discipline.
Recognizing the popularity of this strategy for resolving classroom conflicts and the need for teachers to learn it, Fresno Pacific University created a Restorative Strategies for the Classroom Certificate that teachers can earn online.
What Is Restorative Discipline?
Restorative strategies are conflict resolution methods that could benefit many adults. But the path to learning how to resolve conflicts is best started with young minds in the classroom.
Restorative discipline involves learning to “overcome challenging behaviors and attitudes using restorative strategies as an alternative to punitive discipline,” according to the Fresno Pacific course description.
The strategies not only give teachers an alternative way to resolve conflicts but also equip students with communication tools and conflict resolution strategies that will serve them well throughout their life.
For teachers, it’s impossible to oversee a classroom without some sort of discipline plan in place. Restorative discipline gives them an option that has a proven track record of success.
Some of the principles that underpin the idea of restorative strategies involve the creation of a culture of respect in the classroom between fellow students and between students and teachers and includes restorative actions taken by the offender and forgiveness granted by the victim.
Another facet of restorative strategies is teaching students to become mediators. This allows students to eventually resolve conflicts without the teacher’s direct involvement, equipping students with their own conflict management skills.
The Courses in the Program
Those who enter the Restorative Strategies Certificate program at Fresno Pacific University are required to take two of the following required courses:
Classroom Restorative Discipline. The curriculum in this class is based on a step-by-step process for problem-solving and conflict resolution developed by Ron, D.Min., and Roxanne Claassen in their book, “Discipline That Restores: Strategies to Create Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in the Classroom.”
Positive Discipline in the Classroom. This course can be taken by administrators or teachers at all levels of education. The course focuses on basic conflict management and meditation instruction based on peace-making and “restorative justice-based discipline” in the classroom.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support. This course teaches the best practices for creating a classroom that consists of positive, consistent routines that allow students to learn in a safe and calm environment.
In addition to completing two required courses, teachers must also complete three-four elective courses to earn their restorative strategies certificate. The certificate equals 14 units in total.
Teachers can complete each individual course at their own pace. If they prefer, they can take the classes during vacation or break times. They can also take up to one year to complete each individual course, applying what they learn as they go.
Having a better way to resolve classroom conflicts provides a huge benefit to teachers. It allows them to maintain order without resorting to punitive measures and gives them the chance to teach students skills that will serve them for a lifetime.