Professional Development Seminar

Course Description

Note: This is designed to be a course of study—it is not a training workshop. The course is based on an earlier version developed and taught by Mary Skillings in collaboration with University of Minnesota Duluth from 2006 – 2009.

The goal of this course is to assist teachers and other school staff in creating learning environments that are disciplined, nurturing and relevant to the lives of students.

Course Credit: CEUs are available for total hours of the course.

Course Options: There are three Course options.

  1. Basic Program includes twelve 3 hour sessions held August/September – May.
    Capacity: 10 participants. 36 CEU hours.
  1. Primary Program I includes ten 4-hour sessions held August/September – May.
    Capacity: 12 participants. 40 CEU hours.
  1. Primary Program II includes nine 8-hour sessions held once a month August/September – May.
    Capacity: 15 participants. 72 CEU hours.

Learning Outcomes For Participants

As a result of this course, participants will:

  1. Articulate and situate the philosophy and practice of restorative measures—particularly in, but not limited to the school environment;
  2. Successfully facilitate a Restorative Circle process with students in the classroom;
  3. Explain how they as educators impact and influence the learning and the lives of their students;
  4. Utilize “teachable moments” from real classroom situations as well as subject content to teach pro-social skills based on SEL competencies, core values such as respect and the Golden Rule;
  5. Evaluate the primary developmental work of their students;
  6. Compare alternative ways of teaching and learning to current zero tolerance/punitive practices and contrast respective outcomes experienced by students;
  7. Analyze sources of conflict and demonstrate effective methods of conflict management;
  8. Develop creative ideas to make learning and curriculum content relevant to their students’ lives;
  9. Apply information, skills, and tools to implement positive change—evident in personal change, changes in teaching and managing a classroom, and changes in school policy.

Required Reading

  • Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education
  • Selected readings from provided sources TBD
  • Supplemental articles to do with topics addressed in class as well as handouts based on class material.
  • Viewing of recommended videos demonstrating Restorative Justice in Education.


  • Participants will keep a journal throughout the course to record their learning, ideas, experiments and planning, and will draw from this record to prepare a final presentation.
  • Reading or video assignments as given each session.
  • Each session there will be Practice assignments for implementation in the classroom based on the learning from that session. Some will be on-going through the year.

Suggested Session Topics

Topics are subject to change based on the expressed needs of the hiring organization and the classes as we move through the course. Topics will be expanded or condensed depending on length and number of sessions.

  • Establishment of our learning Circle. Overview of Restorative Practice – it’s history and philosophy. What RP is and is not. Is Change Possible? Where are we and where would we like to be? How our beliefs influence our experience.
  • Core Values: We Teach Who We Are. Are we living what we believe? Identifying our values and core assumptions. Examining how our thinking and beliefs determine our behavior. How to introduce students to the concept of values and lead them in (Circle) discussions about their values.
  • Exploring sources of conflict. Discussion. Restorative Discipline vs. Zero Tolerance. What are the outcomes? Introducing Restorative Language.
  • Learning and the Brain. How does Restorative Practice help keep the Brain in a relaxed learning state? Social Emotional Learning/The Golden Rule; Respect and Restorative Language.
  • Practical Application of Restorative Measures I. Using Circles in the classroom. Mini-training and discussion of how-to-do when logistics are challenging. (Note: this does not equip participants to facilitate Circles to repair serious harm.)
  • Conflict Management and Resolution. Cultivating honor and respect in the classroom; dealing with the real problems. Further work on Restorative Language. Honoring our student’s voice and ideas.
  • Youth/Human Development–an Overview. What is the primary developmental work our students are experiencing? How does this effect learning? How does this inform our teaching?
  • Student Engagement. Why should they learn this stuff? Paying attention to the content as well as the environment. Relevancy and purpose in learning. The 4 C’s of 21st Century learning models.
  • Restorative Measures II—Review and Sharing. Teachers share their ideas and experiences in how to make learning relevant, how to utilize teachable moments and how to utilize conflict to encourage positive growth.
  • The Reflective Practitioner/Teacher. Participants reflect on their learning journey and identify and create a plan for obtaining needed on-going support.

Detailed description and fees available upon request. 

Participating in Mary’s Restorative Practices Training has changed how I approach situations both personally and professionally. I have learned that proper, well planned, well intended Restorative Circles can create a meaningful change. You need to be all in with the implementation of Circles or they will not be as meaningful.

Mary allowed our class to steer away from the agenda, at times, to meet out specific needs. She sought our input when it came to planning our sessions so that we all had a more meaningful experience. Her patience with us as we went in a different direction was much appreciated. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in digging deeper into understanding and implementing Restorative Practices in their classrooms.

Jennifer Perovich
Special Programs
North View Middle School
Osseo Area Schools ▪ ISD 279

As a third-year teacher in a tough school, I am constantly bogged down by the continual strategies that my school and the district put in place to improve class management, and build the skills it takes to meander the ever-changing culture of public schools. The reality is, some of these strategies work. The majority fall flat. That said, I was apprehensive to engage in learning the strategies of restorative practice… in the beginning. Having completed my coursework with Mary Skillings, I can honestly say I am a better, and more well-prepared educator because of it. Her dedication to restorative practices and restorative education was clearly evident in the material she prepared for every lesson. Through my own trials of strategies inside the school and classroom, I can tell you, with practice, the strategies work!

Keith Rishavy
Minnesota Studies 6
North View Middle School
Osseo Area Schools ▪ ISD 279

I was very impressed with the growth of all my students over the course of the school year. I have become a better educator because of this course. Make sure it is known from the beginning that it is a course and that there will be homework and implementation practice. I feel a stipend for active attendance for the full course would help as far as incentive for staff to attend. Make sure support staff is included in the process.

Benda Stanton
Special Education Teacher
North View Middle School
Osseo Area Schools | ISD 279