Knowing and understanding these Seven Core Assumptions is essential for creating a culture of restorative justice in your classroom.

When you engage with restorative justice, you engage with a new set of beliefs.

Consider each of these assumptions with students in mind. Assume that students' true selves are good, wise, and powerful. Know that all students deeply desire being in a good relationship. Recognize how all students have gifts and every student is needed for the individual strengths they bring to the classroom.

Ask yourself:
Which of the Seven Core Assumptions are new to you?
Which have you always known?
Do you agree with all of the Seven Core Assumptions?

Music teachers know that "practice makes perfect." In order for our classrooms to be relational and healthy, we must develop practices that consistently align with our values. "The kind of relationships among students and adults within a school community is a matter of intention: if we choose to nurture positive relationships, they will flourish" (Boyes-Watson & Pranis, 2015, pp. 58-59).

Restorative justice in education creates spaces of shared learning and teaching. These are spaces where we can go beyond the concept of “the harm of one is the harm of all." Now we must recognize that the support of one is the support of all; the love of one is the love of all; the respect of one is the respect of all; the dignity of one is the dignity of all; the worth of one is the worth of all; and the honour of one is the honour of all.

Indigenous wisdom teaches us that the best education is one that fosters the gifts of all community members. In order for this to occur, we must be physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually balanced. This is a respectful step towards all individuals being able to contribute to society.

Dr. Pamela Toulouse (2016) tells us that "The physical refers to the body and comprehensive health of a being. The emotional is concerned with relationships to self, others (including non-humans) and the earth. The intellectual is based in natural curiosity and love for learning. The spiritual is the lived conscientiousness and footprint that a being leaves in this world."

As Indigenous-informed restorative justice educators, we must help foster identity and well-being. This graphic can serve as a reminder of the needs that must be met in order for us to best serve our communities and live good lives.

The Relationship Window can guide teachers and students in their learning. If "we teach each other we will remember to support each other and expect each other to be human... the things we learn are for the well-being of all" (Vaandering, 2013, pp.23-24).

Kohn (2005) tells us that "WITH" is a "place of unconditional love, where unconditional teaching and learning occurs—it doesn’t matter what you say or do, I am still going to love you AND hold you accountable to be all you can be" (as cited in Vaandering, 2013, p. 20). When we operate in the "TO," "NOT," and "FOR" quadrants, we stipulate conditions to our "acceptance, teaching and learning" (Vaandering, 2013, p. 20).

Ask yourself:
In which quadrant(s) do you usually operate?
How can you ensure you live and work in the "WITH" quadrant?

Vaandering (2013) tells us that "at our best we will ‘support’ each other and ‘expect’ each other to be all that we can be. When we do this we live WITH each other as human beings" (p.24). If we treat people as objects we must manage (TO), objects we must ignore (NOT), or objects of need (FOR), we fail to recognize others' inherent humanity.

Permission to include information about the Relationship Window and the related graphic was graciously granted by Dr. dorothy Vaandering.


Boyes-Watson, C., Pranis, K. (2015). Circle forward: Building a restorative school community. Living Justice Press.

Living Justice Press. (2021). Circle process graphics and handouts.

Toulouse, P. (2016). What matters in Indigenous education: Implementing a vision committed to holism, diversity and engagement. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: March, 2016.

Vaandering, D. (2013). A window on relationships: Reflecting critically on a current restorative justice theory. Restorative Justice: An International Journal, 1(3).