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Teacher Knowledge and Beliefs Around Restorative Practices
Exclusionary disciplinary practices used throughout the United States contribute to equity gaps, overwhelmingly affecting the achievement and trajectories of students of color, since they are disproportionately disciplined in schools. Academic achievement, particularly in mathematics, is adversely affected by punitive measures that remove students from their classroom or school, making it a social justice issue by limiting opportunities for marginalized groups of students. Restorative Practices are an alternative to punitive punishment and have shown promise in creating more equitable outcomes for all students. This study focuses on the perspectives math teachers have around discipline and their knowledge and beliefs about Restorative Practices after receiving professional development in the 2019-2020 school year. This study intends to determine in what ways have middle school math teachers’ perspectives on discipline shifted after learning about Restorative Practices and implementing them on some level, and what are the knowledge and beliefs of middle school math teachers regarding Restorative Practices after receiving schoolwide professional development in Restorative Practices. A qualitative case study method was used utilizing an online survey with open ended questions to collect data for each part of the research questions and analyzed through the lens of the Cultural Proficiency framework. The findings indicate that the discipline practices of middle school math teachers became more restorative in nature after engaging in professional development. Additionally, all participants gained knowledge and found restorative strategies to be both valuable and promising. The research also demonstrates that teachers believe the implementation process at their site needs to improve in order for Restorative Practices to be effective throughout the whole school. The researcher recommends the site form a committee dedicated to lead the work, create a five year implementation plan with a consult, and build teacher capacity with continued ongoing support and professional development. With long term support and implementation, Restorative Practices can change the narrative for all groups of students by achieving equitable outcomes.