“The Sower Center helped our district produce significant gains in reading for our low-performing students. It also gave us powerful and easily-learned methods for reducing suspensions, increasing student accountability, involving families in problem solving, and improving the learning climate in our schools.”
Scott Menzel,
District Superintendent

Professional Development for Restorative Practices

Course Descriptions

All three courses are designed for schools but are adaptable to treatment programs, law enforcement, organizations and community groups.

Building on an understanding that behavior and learning are closely related, this professional development presents evidence-based strategies that address the “Big Five” elements of a comprehensive behavior management strategy:
• Rules
• Routines
• Positive behavior support
• Academic engagement
• Responding effectively to misbehavior

The course is interactive with opportunities for personal reflection, small and large group discussion, practice and feedback, and questions. It presents a process for aligning Restorative Practices with:
• Firm expectations for student behavior.
• A relational model of positive behavior support called the Nurtured Heart Approach® Transforming the Difficult Child, which is different than—but can be used along with—conventional methods of PBS.
• Some “simple, old components of effective teaching” that promote academic success.

Participants will be immediately empowered to balance firmness and caring more intentionally and to build better relationships with students.

Appropriate for teachers, administrators and all school personnel who interact with students.



THE POWER OF CIRCLES, 1-day (6 contact hours)
The peacemaking circle process is a powerful and practical method for preventing and resolving conflict, for addressing harmful behavior (even when the perpetrator is not accountable), for halting bullying (including cyber-bullying) and for promoting positive relationships. It is also used academically to encourage broader engagement in lessons and to check for understanding from all students.

Circles are one of the Restorative Practices, which are recommended by the Michigan Department of Education’s 2014 Model Code of Student Conduct, which was developed with assistance from the Sower Center.

This professional development is experiential with opportunities for personal reflection, group discussion and questions. It prepares participants to plan and facilitate both proactive and reactive circles that can improve relationships in schools, communities, treatment programs and correctional facilities.

Appropriate for anyone who works with students or clients.


Restorative justice conferencing is a powerful response to wrongdoing that aligns with conventional disciplinary measures. This training is licensed by the International Institute for Restorative Practices, the world’s leader in professional and program development for Restorative Practices. The course description is available here. Facilitating Restorative Conferences

Appropriate for administrators, discipline specialists, police officers, counselors and teachers.

Implementation Support

The type and amount of implementation support is determined by the needs of your school or organization. It may involve consultation for program development, coaching for individual teachers and staff, modeling and co-facilitating Restorative Practices, problem solving, and program assessment.

The frequency and duration of implementation support also depends on the needs. A typical schedule involves one full day of service each week for the first six weeks following initial PD and one full day every two weeks for an additional six weeks, for a total of nine full days of service.