Your Union Is Leading the Move Toward a Restorative District

We are all grappling to find our footing in our post-pandemic schools. The disruption and fragmentation have taken a toll on our students and families. You are constantly asked to deal with your own life’s struggles while being the rock that holds our communities together and the guide for our students’ successes. You know that many of our students are exhibiting challenging behaviors that reflect the uncertainty of our world. And, you know that when our students take missteps, they need time for reflection on their actions and guidance from trusted adults.

If healing is to happen and justice for all is to be achieved, we know that our public schools and the classroom communities you create will be the cornerstone that we build upon. That’s why your union is proud of the work we have accomplished in our agreements with the district to move toward thoughtful and well-planned implementation of restorative practices. We have enshrined this commitment in our 2022-2023 Negotiated Agreement, recently ratified by educators and approved by the APS Board. You can read the Restorative Practices Memorandum of Understanding on page 137.

APS and ATF have intentionally created the agreement to support you in helping students develop prosocial behavior and fundamental life skills, including:

  • Recognizing and managing emotions
  • Developing caring and concern for others
  • Establishing positive relationships
  • Making responsible decisions
  • Handling challenging situations constructively and ethically

Your union’s goal is to facilitate this transition by providing great educator-led and educator-created curriculum. We know that the best way to move toward a restorative district is with practitioners leading the way. After all, we know our students’ needs and work every day to meet them. We also know how to take profound philosophical ideas and translate them into practical applications that will benefit our students.

We will be posting a variety of lesson ideas on the YOUR CLASSROOM page at to help you develop your restorative classroom. We are very pleased to use resources from Teacher’s Guide To: Building a Restorative Classroom, created by our union siblings at the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), to help you guide your students in the creation of a more restorative environment.

We are also working to bring Walter Taylor, CTU’s Director of Professional Development, to Albuquerque to offer a series of workshops to help ATF members jump start their classrooms’ and schools’ transition to a restorative model. You can read Walter’s bio here. ATF Pres. Ellen Bernstien had the opportunity to attend a PD session with Walter in early 2020, right before the pandemic shutdown, and has been working toward this goal ever since.

In the Introduction of Building a Restorative Classroom, our CTU siblings proclaim:

“In short, while traditional school discipline systems orient students’ thinking toward possible negative consequences for themselves, restorative systems orient students’ thinking toward accountability for the community at large. Conversely, the punitive approach relies on fear of punishment to induce compliance with rules.

As awareness of the existence and impact of the school-to-prison pipeline has increased in recent years, traditional discipline practices have been subject to much scrutiny. Students of color are being suspended and expelled from our nation’s schools at an alarmingly high rate. More than 25 percent of Chicago Public School students have been suspended at least once in their school careers. Despite the frequency with which traditional discipline procedures are utilized, there is no clear evidence that they make schools safer or have any lasting positive effect on student behavior.

 Clear and convincing evidence shows a critical need to change the way in which schools manage student discipline. Research shows that exclusionary practices, such as suspension and expulsion, are:

  • Have long-term negative effects on student achievement.
  • Disproportionately impact students of color.
  • Are associated with lower test scores, decreased graduation rates, and increased incarceration rates later in life.”

It is imperative that we change this trajectory in APS.

In the coming months, we will continue to engage union members in a number of professional development opportunities steeped in restorative practices.


Educator Focused Conversations

Join us in conversations that focus on a range of current educational issues that intersect with Social Emotional Learning, such as restorative practices, educator self-care, community building, equity, and trauma.

Bring your successes and challenges so that we can all learn from each other as we move through another year of learning.

Conversations are held online. Admission is free.  You can sign up here. For more information, email

Dates for the 2nd Semester To Be Announced


Relational Classroom Management

Regardless of the challenges you are having, we focus on helping students develop pro-social behavior and fundamental life skills.

Does this sound familiar?

  • Students won’t put cell phones away
  • Students aren’t responding to reinforcements and consequences
  • Students are breaking down
  • Students are not engaged or participating
  • Students pushing every boundary they can and more

We have evidence-based practices and strategies that can help bring your classroom back. Regardless of the challenges you are having we focus on helping students develop pro-social behavior and fundamental life skills, including:

  • Recognizing and managing emotions
  • Developing caring and concern for others
  • Establishing positive relationships
  • Making responsible decisions
  • Handling challenging situations constructively and ethically


  • Thursday, November 10 4:30-6:00
  • More dates in the 2nd

Cost: $15.00 Members and $25.00 Non-members

You can sign up here. For more information, email


Restorative Practices in the Classroom

Restorative Practices in the Classroom is a new 2-part class on Restorative Practices with Annie Huggins, librarian at Georgia O’Keefe. Annie just received her Master’s in this work and is excited to share her practical expertise.

Participants will learn how to:

  • Create a classroom of respect, compassion, and empathy for all.
  • Build social capital with your students.
  • Facilitate proactive and restorative circles.

The first workshop will take place on Saturday, December 3rd from 1:00-4:00pm. Sign up here.


Breathe for Change

Make your well being a priority and join Tracy Nichols, Teacher-Librarian, for a blissful hour of SEL…for you! Educators, your social and emotional wellness correlates directly with your students’ welfare. The “Breathe For Change” program sets out to put educators’ health and wellness at the center by providing amazingly effective strategies to improve wellbeing. Participants will leave with a greater sense of well-being, as well as a toolkit of SEL techniques and games you can easily incorporate in the classroom.


  • November 3 4:30-5:30 (online)
  • November 17 4:30-5:30 (online)
  • December 1 4:30-5:30 (online)
  • December 15 4:30-5:30 (online)
  • More dates in the 2nd semester

Cost: $5 Members  $10  Non-Members

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