Restorative Practices for Empowerment: A Social Work Lens.
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Studies demonstrate that preventive practices, including restorative practices and social and emotional learning, reduce the need for suspension. However, emerging findings suggest that preventive practices perpetuate the same rates of racial disproportionality in suspension as traditional disciplinary codes; evidence of persistent racial disproportionality appears in research on restorative practices. The purpose of this study was to examine, through interviews with teachers and students, the successes and challenges of implementing community-building circles with attention to equity and inclusion. Authors found that both teachers and students experience these practices as transformative when enough trust is established to share openly; however, more training is necessary for this to be consistent across schools and classrooms. Considering the lack of discussion of implicit bias and cultural responsiveness embedded in the restorative practice trainings these teachers received, authors argue that social work professionals and concepts—namely, empowerment theory—can support teacher training and implementation of community-building circles.