Restorative Practices - “Connect to Correct”

February 21 2018


  • Caroline Gosling, Restorative Practices Trainer
    Caroline Gosling
    Restorative Practices Trainer

Restorative Practices represent a philosophy that recognizes the importance of prioritizing relationships and connections between all people within a school community. Research consistently confirms what educators instinctively know: there is a strong link between positive relationships and success in school. In fact the quality of human relationships may be as influential as the specific techniques or interventions used.

Positive relationships at school create a sense of belonging and connectedness for students. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) reports that school connectedness is the "strongest protective factor for both boys and girls to decrease substance use, school absenteeism, early sexual initiation, violence, and risk of unintentional injury (e.g., drinking and driving, not wearing seatbelts) [1]. This report also notes the strong correlation between school connectedness and academic success, including improved attendance, staying in school longer, and higher grades and test scores.

When misbehaviour occurs, how we choose to intervene can either strengthen our relationships and connections with students or damage them. "Connect to Correct" is a process to address mistreatment that preserves relationships, leaves students' dignity intact and supports behavior change. The steps involved are:

  1. Connect
  2. Share data
  3. Ask for information
  4. Show empathy (agreement)
  5. Name the issue
  6. State possible consequences
  7. Engage in problem solving
  8. Offer to help

These eight steps only take a few minutes and with practice become second nature. Consider this scenario - you are walking down the hallway and see several students standing in group. Their voices are getting louder and as you approach you hear student A, Joe, say to student B, Frank "you better watch your back". You approach Joe and calmly say "Hey Joe, you sound upset (connect). I just heard you tell Frank that he better watch his back (share data). What's going on?" (ask for information). Joe tells you he has heard that Frank has been trying to steal his girlfriend. You say "I can understand how that would make you angry, I would be angry too. (show empathy) It's ok to be angry, it's not ok to threaten someone (name the issue). If you continue to threaten or follow through on your threats, you are going to end up out of class or out of school (possible consequences). I wouldn't want to see that happen. What do you think we can do to solve this? (engage in problem solving) How can I help?"

How do you currently intervene when you see misbehaviour occurring? Is your approach strengthening your relationship and connection with students?

A 2016 research review found that schools implementing school-wide restorative practices have[2]:

  • increased student connectedness and belonging
  • improved social/emotional development in students
  • greater community and parent engagement
  • improved student attendance
  • increased high school completion rates
  • a context for understanding and valuing diversity
  • decreased fights, bullying and suspensions

When we intentionally weave restorative principles and practices into the fabric of our schools they become embedded in school culture and result in a welcoming, caring and safe environment where students thrive. Is this not what we want for all our students and schools?

Community Matters offers trainings in Restorative Practices for school staff and administrators. For more information, see our RP Trainings page or contact LeeAnn Lichnovsky at

[1] Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. Atlanta, GA. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[2] Fronius, T., Persson, H., Guckenburg, S., et al. Restorative Justice in U.S. Schools: A Research Review. The WestEd Justice & Prevention Center, 2016.

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