Waikōwhai Intermediate School uses restorative justice approaches to solving relational and behavioural problems.
What is a restorative justice approach?
Restorative practice views wrongdoing through a ‘relational’ lens - understanding that wrongdoing harms people and relationships, and that when such harm is done, it creates obligations and liabilities.
Restorative processes focus on creating safe spaces for talking together, exploring different
perspectives and how the harm has affected different people, and coming up with ways to repair
the harm and make things right.
Bridge Builders help people to understand each other’s side of the story and to solve a problem together. They build bridges of understanding between people.
In a Bridge Builder Chat, the Bridge Builder asks each person to tell their story and to share how what
happened affected them. They ask each person what they think would help solve the problem, and then
help them to reach an agreement. They follow up later to check that the agreement is being kept.
All staff at Waikōwhai can facilitate Bridge Builder chats with students, and all students are also given opportunities
to train as a Bridge Builder in workshops with our school counsellor.
Student feedback about Bridge Builder training
It has taught me how to solve problems with class mates/friends/random people.
I have learnt not only to sort out others’ problems, but my problems as well.
It has helped with life skills and how to calm myself down when I'm super mad. It’s just so amazing and it is a great opportunity for learning to help others out.
Because I get in a lot of fights all time and I thought this training would help and it did help me and my friends.
It’s helped me to feel safe around others and helped me make them feel safe in Waikōwhai.
It helped me to be brave about talking about problems.
It has helped me think about problems in a deeper way than running away from it.
All the things I learned in Bridge Building, I've used for things with my friends. Like when there’s a problem, I use some of the prompts that I've remembered.
I've used my BB skills when I have arguments with my brother and it's made us better friends/brothers.
If there's something I don’t agree with, I listen and make my point with respectful words, like in a [Bridge Builder] chat.
We encourage and support our students to use their words when they are experiencing difficulties with others. We teach them to use ‘I statements’: describing what has happened and how it has affected them, followed by making a request of the other person.