Better Than Carrots or Sticks

Better Than Carrots or Sticks-Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management
By: Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey

So often educators are quick to offer rewards or punishment in an effort to change student behaviors. Rewards and punitive consequences may be quick and change some behavior short term, but the effects are temporary at best and may actually have a negative long term effect.

In their book, authors use scenarios to illustrate real world examples of ways to bring about lasting change in student behavior by illustrating the importance of building relationships with students, creating an environment that safe for students to make mistakes. It addresses a restorative approach to classroom management. The book highlights both cultural and academic responsibilities of educators reinforcing the two be taught side by side. Teaching restorative practices along with academics is crucial and may be best illustrated as interwoven threads that construct a strong fabric by educating the whole child.

This book identifies several key components of a healthy environment including dialogue when addressing behavioral issues and establishing relationships with students as some of the most important components to a restorative classroom. Scenarios are provided by classroom educators and give real examples of restorative practices. Sample scenarios include ideas for conducting classroom meeting, establishing norms, procedures, and creating a safe, threat-free environment. Authors provide sample plans, questionnaires, and substantial research to support its findings.

I recommend this book to educators as a great springboard for understanding restorative practices. They begin and end the book with the phrase that this is an “invitation to learn”. This can only happen when there is an established trust, respect, optimists, and intentionality. As educators, we are life-long leaders and owe to children and ourselves to never end up in the land of “done”. We are never finished learning and must continue to grow our practices and teach with purpose and intent. This book gave me a deeper understanding of restorative practices and providing several ideas to enhance the culture of any classroom.

 Book review by Debbie Kerrigan

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