• Leading Restorative Change: A Case Study of Implementing and Sustaining Restorative Culture in an Ontario Middle School

      Webb, Owen D.; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      In February of 2008, the Government of Ontario released legislation for Progressive Discipline in Ontario schools. As a means of fulfilling this legislation, some school districts in Ontario implemented the use of restorative practices. Restorative practices are viewed as a positive means for transforming the culture of a school, yet literature suggests some concerns with restorative approaches. While the practice has been used intermittently across the province of Ontario, seen in some districts or in individual schools, there has not been widespread implementation. Literature suggests that the theoretical foundations of restorative practices are not strong. To enrich literature on restorative culture change, there needs to be ongoing assessment of restorative paradigm shifts in schools. The research addresses the need for studying the leading of restorative culture change from a relational perspective. This research undertook a qualitative case study methodology of a middle school in southern Ontario, examining the school’s journey to implement and sustain a restorative culture. The study looked at the role of leadership in pursuing a restorative vision, the response to the vision by the school community, and how restorative practices are employed by the school. The research revealed the value of restorative practices in establishing space, processes, attitudes, and key questions for initiating dialogue, each critical to establishing a strong relational culture. The need for leadership to continually model restorative practices in order that they are established throughout the organization is necessary for sustaining a restorative culture. Finally, the study showed that evaluating the effectiveness of restorative practices using a relational and dialogic paradigm is critical for founding and sustaining a restorative vision, thereby establishing a strong foundation for effective student learning.