The Restorative Approach: Fostering Connection and Reflection in Classrooms

Insights from Michelle Stowe’s Enlightening Presentation

Michelle Stowe is no stranger to the world of education. With 16 years of experience teaching English and Spanish, her journey into becoming a passionate restorative practitioner, lecturer, trainer, and director of Connect RP is both inspiring and revolutionary. During her presentation, Michelle masterfully wove the fabric of restorative practice (RP) from a unique perspective – emphasizing the significance of our internal landscapes in shaping educational environments.

Her approach to restorative practices is deeply rooted in an intrinsic, personal journey, aptly termed “RESTORATIVE ME”. Michelle delved into the concept of leadership as an embodiment of values, emphasizing its transformative impact on how educators think, speak, share, listen, ask, and ultimately, show up in their classrooms.

A standout feature of Michelle’s discourse was her passionate call to shift the dialogue in schools. Instead of focusing solely on ‘behaviour management’, she ardently championed the transition towards creating relational learning communities, emphasizing the importance of growing restorative classrooms and pedagogies. This isn’t just about managing student behaviour but rather fostering environments where authentic connections, reflections, and personal growth are prioritized.

For Michelle, understanding and embracing the core principles of restorative practices is more than just an external teaching strategy. It’s an inward journey, an exploration of personal values, and an intentional effort to model these values in daily teaching practices. This introspective approach to education is crucial, especially in challenging moments when our natural inclination might be to become defensive or to disconnect.

Her workshop was not merely an academic exposition. It was an invitation. Michelle urged educators to redefine success in classrooms – not as compliance or conformity, often misconstrued as the essence of RP, but as authentic self-affirmation. The goal? For every individual to genuinely embrace the sentiment: “I like who I am.”

Michelle’s insights were not just theoretical; they were grounded in her own experiences. She has not only been a proponent of these principles but has also actively integrated them into tangible platforms like the restorative e-learning platform, Ubuntu Learning. Additionally, for those intrigued by her holistic approach to education, she pointed attendees to her TEDx talk from 2017 titled “Empathy: the heart of difficult conversations,” offering a glimpse into the depth and breadth of her expertise and passion.

In wrapping up, Michelle Stowe’s presentation was a refreshing reminder of the potential held within the education system when seen through the lens of restorative practices. She underscored the importance of educators being reflective, connected, and authentic models in their classrooms. In a world where conformity is often mistaken for success, Michelle’s message was clear: it’s not about making students ‘do’ as they’re told, but about fostering environments where every individual feels valued, understood, and, most importantly, likes who they are.

Educators and institutions looking to revolutionize their classrooms would do well to heed Michelle Stowe’s wisdom, ensuring that the core of their teaching isn’t just about managing behaviour but truly connecting, reflecting, and modeling values that nurture holistic growth.