Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Ginny Birky, PhD

Second Advisor

Patrick Allen, PhD

Third Advisor

Susanna Thornhill, PhD


Zero tolerance policies and exclusionary practices that involve punitive responses to student misbehavior often result in undesirable outcomes for students and schools. In response, some schools and districts have adopted and implemented a behavior management program based on restorative justice called Restorative Approaches. The educational literature contains initial findings that show restorative approaches have promise for reducing exclusions, creating community, improving the teacher-student relationship, and more. Teachers whose schools use restorative approaches may go through a process to adopt and implement aligned approaches in their classrooms. The goal of this phenomenological study was to identify the process through which a restorative justice philosophy was adopted and aligned practices put to use in the classroom. This study examined the experiences of six teachers who worked at a high school in a district that implemented a restorative justice program and supported its use. The themes identified from the individual interviews provide insight into the process participants experienced in adopting and implementing the use of restorative approaches in their classrooms. The results have implications for district-wide implementation because they identify beliefs that may be common to adopters of a restorative justice philosophy, describe the process of adopting aligned practices, and establish the importance of relationships when applying restorative justice approaches.

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