The Social Capital Window of Restorative Practices

The goal of Restorative Practices is to build and strengthen strong school communities. Eighty percent of the efforts is for building the relationships that provide the backbone of strong school communities; 20% of the efforts aims to restore and heal those relationships that are harmed.

At the basis of Restorative Practices is the Social Capital Window, a broad categorization of school or classroom environments. The University of Michigan's Professor Wayne Baker defines social capital as the resources available within networks. including information, ideas, cooperation, support, and power. The Social Capital Window, also called the Social Discipline Window, categorizes social norms and behavioral expectations into four types of environment, based on degrees of support and control and reflecting the impact of different types of leadership. The Social Capital Window is an adaptation of Diane Baumrind's Parenting Styles from the 1960s. 

The degree of Support is indicated by the horizontal x-axis. Support connotes encouragement, growth, nurturing, warmth, and acceptance and goes from low to high.

The degree of Control is found on the vertical y-axis. Control indicates a range of limit-setting, discipline, expectations, boundaries, intentionality, and structure from low to high.

In the illustration above, the green panes are categories at the extremes with a high degree of control or support and a low degree of the other. At the top left is the Authoritarian environment with high control and low support. In this school or classroom, academic and/or behavioral expectations are high, but emotional support is low. Strict rule adherence is expected, and emotional needs are not considered. This environment is "doing to" students and staff; at its worst, it is a breeding ground for unhealthy behaviors such as stigmatizing, blaming, and being punitive. The Permissive environment is "doing for" students, with a high degree of support and a low degree of control. While warm and responsive, this environment is lenient and indulgent. It can affect impulse control, prevent adequate social awareness, and promote egocentricity. in students and staff.

The orange pane represents an environment with low support and low control. It is labeled as Neglectful, "doing nothing" for students and staff. With uninvolved and indifferent leaders, staff and students are in survival mode with no warmth and no consistent rules and expectations. The impact of the neglectful environment are behavioral issues with inconsistent consequences and little to no accountability.

Restorative Practices lives in the Restorative pane, "doing with" staff and students. In this environment, high degrees of both control and support from leaders create cultures defined by collaboration, cooperation, shared responsibility and accountability. High expectations are set for staff and students within an accepting and responsive environment. Boundaries are set and enforced through shared decision making.

As schools see the power of Restorative Practices as a way to build the school communities where everyone thrives, it is important to understand the foundation of these practices. The Social Capital Window is an important first step to implementing RP with fidelity. It is especially important for all trusted adults in a child's life to understand, from parents and law enforcement officers to educators and social workers.

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