Sustaining a Relational School: The Collaborative Approach of Deborah Mitchell and Les Hall

The power of collaboration was on full display when RJ specialist Deborah Mitchell and School Principal Les Hall took the virtual stage. Their joint presentation, deeply rooted in the principles of Restorative Practice, offered invaluable insights into fostering a holistic, inclusive, and responsive educational environment.

As Mitchell and Hall reminisced about their five-year journey, they painted a vivid picture of a school that has undergone a transformative change, driven by the ethos of Restorative Practice. The chronicle of their partnership revealed the relentless effort, dedication, and tenacity it takes to embed long-term cultural change in an educational setting. Their narrative was not just a recounting of past achievements but a roadmap for institutions looking to integrate Restorative Practice sustainably.

One of the most striking facets of their presentation was the emphasis on uplifting and recognizing non-traditional student leaders. This approach seeks to challenge the status quo by investing in the leadership potential of young individuals who might otherwise be overlooked. By valuing their unique experiences, perspectives, and insights, Mitchell and Hall showcased a model that is both inclusive and empowering.

A key tenet of their strategy revolves around the principle of ‘students teaching students’. By fostering an environment where older students pass on their Restorative Practice learnings to their younger counterparts, they create a cascading effect, ensuring that the principles of restorative justice permeate through every level of the student body.

Another cornerstone of their philosophy is addressing identity-related harm, particularly racism. By using Restorative Practice as a tool to facilitate understanding and dialogue, they tackle both interpersonal and systemic issues head-on. Their commitment to creating a safe, inclusive space where every student feels valued and heard is commendable.

However, Mitchell and Hall’s vision extends beyond the boundaries of their institution. They see Restorative Justice as a global movement, and they are dedicated to nurturing global citizens. Their approach to achieving this is twofold. Firstly, by equipping students with Restorative skills and knowledge, they enable them to navigate interpersonal dynamics effectively. Secondly, and perhaps more profoundly, they empower students to be active contributors to larger societal issues such as environmental conservation and social justice.

Their presentation underscored the belief that schools are not just centers for academic learning but pivotal spaces where young individuals develop a sense of identity, purpose, and belonging. Mitchell and Hall’s commitment to creating an environment that fosters these elements was evident in every aspect of their discourse.

In conclusion, Deborah Mitchell and Les Hall’s presentation was more than just an account of their experiences. It was a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, vision, and unwavering commitment. Their journey at the nexus of education and Restorative Practice offers invaluable lessons for educators worldwide. In an era where the focus is often on academic achievements and standardized test scores, their approach is a refreshing reminder of the true purpose of education – to nurture empathetic, informed, and active global citizens.