Four Methods for Utilizing AI in the Implementation of Restorative Practices

As educators, our goal is to establish positive learning environments where students follow rules and routines. However, it is inevitable that we will encounter undesirable behavioral incidents when working with young people. Growing up involves a process of trial and error, and when students make mistakes, restorative practices can help them learn from their actions and become positive contributors to the classroom community. Our aim is to move beyond simple consequences and rewards and focus on genuine learning experiences.

With the rise of artificial intelligence tools, I have discovered valuable resources that enhance my use of restorative practices in the classroom. The strategies below have empowered my students and facilitated a renewed sense of connection after disruptive incidents.

1. Establish restorative reflections

When a student crosses a boundary or violates an expectation, providing them with an opportunity for independent reflection can help them process what happened and express their thoughts. I have found that using ChatGPT to generate reflection questions tailored to the situation is helpful. For example, I can prompt the AI with the following request: “A student violated a school rule. Please generate five reflection questions to guide their thinking, improve their behavior, and rectify the situation.”

Additionally, I can specify the desired reading level for the questions by adding “at a third-grade reading level.” This encourages independent engagement with the material.

It is essential to prioritize student confidentiality and avoid including any identifying information, as student privacy is crucial when using AI technologies. By providing specific details, the reflection questions become more relevant to the circumstances. This method effectively engages students in the learning and growth process after making mistakes. Rather than assigning arbitrary consequences that may not align with the incident, I have students spend time completing reflections. We then have a brief discussion to acknowledge the situation and move forward.

I have already witnessed positive outcomes from this practice, and I am often surprised by the level of introspection displayed by my students. Their responses help me determine the next steps for effective intervention, and I also share a copy with parents so they are aware of what transpired and how their child processed the situation.

2. Develop personalized social stories

Social stories are typically used for students who require special education services, particularly those on the autism spectrum. However, I have found that social stories can help all students navigate negative behavioral incidents. Using ChatGPT, I create custom social stories that cater to each situation.

To incorporate restorative practices, I make sure to include a section detailing “how the student made things right” in the story prompt. I also select the appropriate reading level and word count based on the student’s independent reading ability. Additionally, I can prompt ChatGPT to create 10 comprehension questions about the story to further enhance engagement. Here are a few example prompts to begin with:

  • “Write a story about a fifth-grade student who stole another student’s lunch money but later returned it and apologized. The story should be at a third-grade reading level, with a length of 500 words.”
  • “Write a story about a middle school student who was throwing food in the lunchroom but decided to clean up and make better choices. The story should be at a sixth-grade reading level, with a length of 700 words.”
  • “Write a story about a high school senior who got into a verbal altercation that disrupted class, but later resolved the conflict with their peer. The story should be at a 10th-grade reading level, with a length of 1,000 words.”

3. Generate discussion questions for restorative circles

Restorative circles play a crucial role in restorative practices as they bring students together to address harm and the needs of the group in order to restore harmony. In my classroom, I often use a full-class meeting restorative circle to address issues affecting all students. For incidents involving a smaller number of students, a “mini-circle” can help facilitate restoration.

To prepare for these discussions, I rely on ChatGPT to generate a list of questions or suggestions that can guide the conversation around specific issues. Here are some example prompts:

  • “Generate 10 open-ended questions I can use to discuss excessive cell phone use with my students.”
  • “Generate five open-ended questions I can use to facilitate a discussion between two students who had a verbal disagreement in my class.”
  • “Generate eight open-ended questions I can use to address students disengaging and sleeping during class.”

4. Design creative social and emotional learning lesson plans

Many undesirable classroom behaviors stem from a lack of social and emotional skills such as self-control, conflict resolution, self-discipline, and anger management. Incorporating social and emotional learning into the curriculum can create a more productive learning environment with improved academic achievement. Restorative interventions empower students to enhance their ability to handle similar situations in the future.

Finding lesson ideas and activities that align with specific incidents or student needs can be challenging. I utilize ChatGPT to create lesson plans targeting the specific skills I aim to develop in my students.

For example, I can use the following prompt to generate a relevant lesson plan: “Create a comprehensive lesson plan that teaches students how to (insert skill name, such as coping skills, appropriate language use, hallway behavior, cleaning up after themselves, or getting along with others) at a fourth-grade reading level.” ChatGPT will provide objectives, materials, and a structured lesson plan that includes an introduction, a main activity, guided practice, independent practice, closure, optional homework, and assessment.

The benefit of this process is that it often sparks new ideas beyond what I might find in existing curriculum materials. It inspires me to brainstorm how I can help students develop their social and emotional skills, and it provides a clear structure to follow. Combining the AI-generated resources with my own creativity and knowledge of my students has resulted in an improved classroom climate and enhanced transferable skills for learners.

Ultimately, AI tools enable me to create restorative and targeted learning experiences for students, even after they have made poor choices or violated expectations. The purpose is to instill a sense of acceptance and care, inspiring growth and learning to enhance students’ sense of belonging at school and foster a healthy classroom community.

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