Restorative Justice School Coordinator Training!

The best of the best from Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin will be woven in to the training experience in July.  SCVRJP just finshed the 2nd Advanced School practices training and is preparing for the July 8th and 9th training session.  The content will be unique to previous trainings, as it will cover a range of Restorative processes that can be used in schools.

Session trainer Kris Miner has been part of a team consulting with Nancy Riestenberg and the Minnesota Department of Education on materials for implementation, including the most recent Trainers Guide for Working with Schools to Implement Restorative Practices. Kris is spending 5 days in Texas with University of Texas, Austin Restorative Justice Institute, attending their school coordinator and administrators training for restorative discipline.

This training is available at SCVRJP in July or agencies can bring Kris on-site to provide the training.  Please see the flyer link for more information or to register.

The training pdf:

Restorative-Discipline-Schools-2015

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National Association of Community and Restorative Justice – Ted Lewis and Kris Miner

Here are the handouts to be discussed during the NACRJ workshop:

When to Circle When to Conf NACRJ

When to CirConf tools and exercise

Please leave any comments or questions for us.

 

 

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Restorative Justice Circles with and for Veterans.

In a recent Facebook post, I mentioned a Veteran validating the use of Circles with and for Veterans.

Here is the training packet that I prepared for use when training Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles for Veterans.

RJ Peacemaking Circles for Veterans (1)

A training will be scheduled soon!

 

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Restorative Justice when offenders don’t want community involved.

How a restorative justice practitioner handles challenges in the preparation stage is very important.  One common challenge is those that caused harm, or their parents, push back against community involvement.  Thanks to the Ministry of Justice, Jamaica for this image:restorative-justice-three-parties

My recommendation so to find out where this resistance is from, try to understand the concern and then offer an appropriate response to move forward.  It is very important is to work through these concerns so those participating fully understand what the Restorative Justice goals are.  There are no shortcuts to doing effective restorative justice Tweet: There are no shortcuts to doing effective restorative justice. @krisminer http://ctt.ec/bdjfd+  These tips are designed to give you tools in your preparation for a successful Restorative Justice dialogue, in a conference or circle setting.

Top 3 reasons those that caused harm are resisting community involvement.

1) They think the process is punitive.  The person resisting the community has shame, and doesn’t want to have others judge them.

2)They might be worried about confidentiality.

3)They might not feel in control, or understand the process is voluntary.

Helpful, restorative responses:

  • Make an apology for your failure to explain things correctly.  Be so assured of the health of having community.
  • Re-explain the philosophy and approach.  Assure community is present to hold positive outcomes.  Some anxiety before is a meeting is normal, it’s because it is so important.
  • Be confident in the role of community, it is not an option for them not to be present.  Do this conversationally, not like you are dictating things.
  • If the person is worried that they know your community mentors, assure them that is a good thing!  That is how community works.
  • Validate the choices made to participate.  When a young woman scoffed at me “I’m only doing this do get out of being suspended”, I calmly responded “oh, Ok, you made the right choice.  Why don’t you want to be suspended?”
  • Assure the concerns by explaining how much volunteers are trained in the process, volunteers have signed confidentiality agreements.  Let them know that they are understanding, and are parents themselves, and every single person has made a mistake.  Reiterate the foundation and roots of restorative justice.
  • Tell a story about a time other people had similar concerns and how the session went very well.
  • Be sure to ask them about their resistance, don’t make assumptions.  If they ask you a question about the volunteers, you don’t need to answer, you can ask another question about why they are needing that information.
  • Maintain a respectful discussion and explore their needs, I’ve found the open honest discussion leads to a willingness to participate.

Other important factors are for you to take care of your volunteers . . . respect them as community holding valuable information and need for involvement.  They have been trained and take the time to participate, don’t exclude them because you put the person who caused harm in charge.  You are the facilitator . . . your job is to prepare people, not to have them prepare conditions.  The facilitator is the one with the most information about the way the process works.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  If you can’t get consent for community, let the participant know you have to think about how to move ahead.  Ask them to also think about it.

Just as you prepare victims to know their needs, you prepare those harmed to know their fears.  Once they are out on the table they can be addressed.  To move forward and try restorative justice without the community is excluding a KEY and CORE practice.

 

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Filed under Meeting Goals, offenders, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, Teaching RJ, Volunteers

Restoratively engaging survivors, storytellers and community volunteers.

Restorative Justice operates by engagement of Victims-Offenders-Community.  The magic is in the mix of these stakeholders.  I believe the more congruent your program and work with these stakeholders is, the more you are modeling, teaching, coaching and living restoratively.  Using community volunteers beyond facilitators is very important.  The community voice is important to help both the victims and offenders feel supported and to increase their knowledge of how crime impacts the community.  Storytellers in Restorative Justice can be the survivor of crime, the support person of someone harmed, or someone directly impacted.  I have other posts on Restorative Justice Storytelling, here.  This blog post will provide some direct actions you can take to restoratively engage individuals in the work of Restorative Justice services and programs.

1. Live Circle Wisdom.  Value all your relationships, and maintain a place where you yourself are in a good way for your relationship with others.  This might mean self-care or spiritual practices that keep you centered to your best self.  As someone recently said to me, “walk the hot coals of our own lives”.  People decide if their relationship with you is ‘just’, they want to be treated fairly and with respect.  The standard is even higher for those in Restorative Justice, you want to show people how it works, by being that example.

2. Apply the approach constantly.  Utilize the power that Circles create, by applying the outcomes in this image, as the potential for each engagement with someone else.Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles

 

I was provided some feedback that I didn’t necessarily want to hear, but I needed to hear it and I’m glad that I did.  I see it now, that I could have lived the bullet points in this image.  I try to be mindful of these and do them consistently.

I messed up at a community forum, small groups brainstormed ideas on work of SCVRJP.  One group had identified the importance of people knowing about “forgiveness”.  I reacted, I sighed, whispered to a neighbor, saying “that’s not what restorative justice is really about”.  It wasn’t that I was wrong, but what I did was not necessary, it did not represent the ‘positive way of being’.  I didn’t include space for that person perspective or understanding.  It would have been just fine to let that pass without showing my feelings about it.  I didn’t realize people were watching me like that, until that feedback.  I realized the standard for those promoting this work is important to model.

3. Be an invisible gate-keeper.  All people have gifts and contributions, not all are ready for the intermingle and mix in Circle.  Find ways to include people and give them a role appropriate to their current level of restorative justice.  We once had someone in a volunteer orientation Circle, refuse to share anything about herself since she didn’t yet know everyone else.  A few rounds later, after people had opened up about why they were volunteering, she learned some were giving back after being given a 2nd chance drug court program.  When the talking piece came to her she scolded us saying “I didn’t know I would be with criminals!”  We assigned her data entry, so she could see evaluation form comments.  She also helped with a fundraising event.  I went back and checked in with the “criminals”, a word I avoid, using x-offender or the persons name.  Thankfully, it opened up a discussion about expecting that from community, and that is “a price paid when you break the law”.  I got to affirm the accountability of the person referenced and labeled.

4. Silently Mentor.  Prepare people for the anticipated and unanticipated possibilities in Circle.  We have a reflection round after storytellers.  Sometimes the emotions leave people wanting to escape or avoid those, so they themselves rationalize or minimize harmful behavior.  For example, after hearing from someone who killed someone after driving impaired, a reflection was offered “it’s not your fault, he got in the car with you”.  Coach people to listen with an understanding they don’t have to take everything to heart.  Have your radar on and your listening engaged to make sure everyone, from every angle of the Circle can feel supported.  You can check-in politely with people, offer ways they can reframe their sharing.  One volunteer told those at the Underage Consumption Circle, that “you drank to get drunk, your an alcoholic”, I later checked in, she really believed that.  Her life expereinces were limited and she thought that was the way things were.  I suggested that perhaps she not label others behavior, but speak from an experience of her own.  Strong feelings are welcome, they belong in Circle, people need to be able have healing through feeling, once labeled or judged, the opportunity gets smaller.  She understood the value of not labeling, given the opportunity to expresss and explain herself.

5. Honor preferences.  Listening to what is important and helpful and do things to show volunteers you care.  One volunteer is a smoker, and he has anxiety before sharing his story.  The storytelling isn’t until an hour or more into the Circle.  His pre-speech jitters would usually be to rest with a cigarette, that outlet is not possible, we always start and complete our Circles together.  He likes to chew on small suckers, Dum-Dums to stay calm.  Our candy jar hasn’t been without the little candy, since we learned this.  One of our welcoming office behaviors is to immediately offer a bottle of water or cup of coffee.  A new volunteer says they like tea, so we stock tea.  Another loved a new coffee flavor, so we have that coffee on hand.  The little things make a big difference.  Show people they are respected, that they belong and that they are important to your program and work.

 

In what ways to you honor volunteers or support survivors?

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Filed under Belonging, non-profit management, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, SCVRJP, Tip of the Week

5 tips for the journey, community to school-based Restorative Justice.

I was very fortunate that in 1999 and 2000 the founders of St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program, had intentions on focusing the program on juveniles.  They also engaged a founding board member, who at the time was on the local school board.  Her take on expulsions in schools, was youth were being pushed away at a time they should be brought closer.   With her leadership SCVRJP focused on “embedding the philosophy” of Restorative Justice in the St. Croix Valley.  As board chair she guided us towards the areas of juvenile justice and schools, and the core programs of Victim Impact Panels and victim-offender mediation (as we called it then).

As luck would have it, we added a high school assistant principal to the board of directors.  His house was egged, he accepted Restorative Justice.  His story of the healing it brought his spouse, and the positive relationship with the students, promoted his support and use of SCVRJP.

The first Circle I kept for SCVRJP was in 2005, for a school-based incident.  I still keep a copy of the young man’s apology letter in my book of Circle readings.  He still keeps the Circle of individual ribbons tied together, in his top drawer of special things.

I live 12 miles from River Falls, where SCVRJP was founded and eventually opened the Restorative Justice Center in 2006.  Before the Restorative Justice Center opened, when I was “on the clock” I would stop in at the high school.  This became a pattern of getting cases.  Sometimes it was the students waiting to be disciplined. The assistant principal saw me, saw the student, and brought us in his office together.  Sometimes we just visited about how to handle concerns at the school restoratively.  SCVRJP handled cases of lunch room food fights, students assaulting each other, gym class threats, mean girls, overdose at school, truancy, drugs and drinking on a field trip.  We handled these in various degrees of diversion or formal involvement.

The use of Restorative Justice was part of the student handbook and code of conduct.  A few years later I called back for a new copy, it had already been removed.  Staff changed, SCVRJP got busier and the use of Restorative Justice reduced in individual cases, and increased in teachers and staff coming to training.  SCVRJP volunteers helped with Circles at a lock-in, one of those high school students is now in my college course!  At any rate, things change, that is the first tip for the journey!

Be wise with your time and energy, things ebb and flow, and they change.  Especially in schools.  be patient when working with school systems.  Consider the growing of a garden, sometimes to prune things back is best.  Sometimes you get good tomatoes and sometimes you feed the bugs!

The 2nd tip, is to promote community.  As community based programs, we are often “righting wrongs”.  Community programs typically take referrals after an incident has happened.  In schools it is important to reaffirm, repair and rebuild relationships (pbis posts).  I teach schools Circles, because they can be used for academic instruction, classroom behavior management, and resolving conflict.  To teach teachers how to do a victim-offender conference, is not the way to start (in my opinion).  They don’t have time, they don’t understand the overarching philosophy or goals.  The 3rd tip, is to meet schools where they are at.

Meet a school where they are at means spending time getting to know how they have come to want school-based restorative justice.  I could list 50 different schools I’ve worked with, and I can give you 50 different ways they came to want to be trained in Restorative Justice.  Help them based on where they are at and what they want.  Align with the goals of those invested.

My 4th ‘wisdom of the lived experience’, encourage them to try something.  When working with schools, have the direct application tips for teachers.  These people are already angels, and they need clear specific “how do I” answers and training materials.  Be structured in what you are asking them to do, from the 1:1 conversation with students, to how to keep the Circle.  I love good teachers, the best are no-bullshit, and for a farm girl from South Dakota, I’ve always gotten that.  They need you to be real, and to be confident and know your stuff.  If you don’t know it, you can’t fake it.  The best compliment I got was someone giving me positive feedback for doing Circle in Circle training.  He had just been at a training on student engagement, and the trainer lectured and did powerpoint the entire day.

The 5th tip . . . walk the journey, go back to the school, do coaching and follow up.  I had some exhausting days, but I learned the most when I went from class to class, circle to circle.  I was right beside the team I was helping, I was in the school community they were trying to transform.  Once I sent someone to go learn, and the school ended up on lock-down.  The teacher and I laughed afterwards, but the lessons learned from that experience won’t go unforgotten!

The journey from community to school-based tips:

  1. Things Change, honor that cycles happen.
  2. Build community in schools, don’t start at the top of the PBIS triangle, start at the bottom.
  3. Meet schools where they are.  What’s working well, what are they trying to accomplish.
  4. Get specific action items to those being trained.  Encourage people to try something new.
  5. Follow up, coach, get experience doing the work in a school setting.

SCVRJP is hosting an advanced school-based training on June 8 & 9 in River Falls, WI.  From now until July 31, I am available to do contracted trainings for SCVRJP.  On August 1st, I will be available as Circle Space Services, offering trainings for practitioners and school-based providers.

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Promote self-control, use “me” statements in Circle process.

Like most people, I don’t like to be interrupted or have my thoughts completed incorrectly.  Well, what, I judged as incorrect.  Any well-versed Circle person knows there is no right or wrong.  At these moments of frustration, I have learned to try to “observe” and consider why it seems “wrong”.   Thank you to those that shared before I finished, saying you understood sharing with the talking piece as using “I statements”.  It didn’t quite fit and it’s taken me awhile to know why.  No disrespect to the “I statement” approach, which reduces blame, shame and conflict between individuals.  I’m proposing “me-statements” for use in Restorative Justice Circle process.

Me-statements are used to speak from the heart.  To relate your experience or your truth.  Talking in “me” means: for me . . . , about me . . . , this happened to me . . . , because of me . . ..  We have gotten conditioned to avoid being all “me, me, me” which implies being selfish.  I’m not locking into the exclusive use of the word “me”. I’m talking about a perspective here.  The me, perspective means having accountability, self-control and the ability to express yourself vs being selfish.  Knowledge of “me” is emotional intelligence and a social-emotional skill-set.  Teaching students and those in Restorative Justice process to speak from “me” provides a deeper Circle experience.

Here are 4 reasons Me-statements are helpful in Circle.

  1. Speaking from belonging.  From the place of me, indicates you are part of a larger collective.  There is a we, and you are individually identifying your experience.  You are relating your story when you use the me perspective, you are speaking your truth.
  2. I, is a word of authority.  In Circle we are connecting to the equality of dignity and worth.  Me is less judgemental that I.  Me is balanced and we can all speak from me, we might not yet know the “I’s” (when you _____, I feel ____).  The basic Restorative Justice questions are how were you impacted, what did you think when you realized this happened, what do you think needs to happen to make things right.  Me-statements offer a perspective.
  3. Circles are not about giving advice.  To offer your wisdom in terms of “this worked for me . . .” or “what helped me . . . ” allows others to see you access your own inner strength and wisdom, and that is more beneficial than advice.
  4. Teach others to listen to the voice inside.  That’s the “me” voice or the intuition, the soul, the ego, whatever you would like to call it, it is the place inside that young people need to connect to, to make decisions when authority figures are not around.  Verbalizing from that place, in a Circle, strengthens the connection.

So the caution here is not to overly rigid, correct people using I statements.  The way to be “circle-like” is offer what works best, to be able to explain how me-statements benefit in Circle.  Get wisdom from Circle by asking people to talk about the difference between a me-statement and an I-statement.

Modeling is a Circle-keepers strongest resource.  Practice some me-talk and see how it impacts your conversations and your Circles.  Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

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Honoring Values and Embracing Change

I was out of state with my partner, his son had recently died unexpectedly. The fragile nature of life and the importance of family was in my breath and pulsing in my veins. Things that are important really find the surface in times of loss and grief. A breath of relief had arrived and funeral arrangements were very close to being finalized. Next, I get a call that my Dad had a health issue. His vision in one eye went blurry. He himself shared his concern. This is a man who waited a day to go to the doctor with a bee stinger in his eyeball. This is the man who unsaddeled his horse and got him out to pasture, while his hand “was facing the wrong direction”. Needless to say if my Dad was concerned, I was concerned. I was afraid of a mild stroke. It turned out to macular degeneration, caught early, with medical intervention the progression of vision loss could be slowed.

Just a week later suprising news from my Mom, my Dad suggested they sell the farm and move to town. Wait, what? It’s been in the family since 1904, homestead by my great-grandparents. The house they lived in, was home, my home, my Dad’s home, my Grandparents home, and my Great-grandparents! That got my siblings to call me. We all had our feelings, yet it was Dad’s decision. A values training activity to Restorative Justice Circles is to imagine having a conversation with your family. You and your siblings don’t agree on the inherited family business. The question is after the conversation, how do you want to be remembered. I recalled this activity from my 2002 Circle Training with Kay Pranis. I want to be respectful, kind, generous. And so . . . I offered support.

March 3, news of Dad’s vision. March 9, they are selling the farm. March 21, my parents visit and we enjoy a fundraising dinner for SCVRJP. That afternoon I made pies and had a great visit with my Dad. He seemed at peace with his decision to move to town. I saw my Father, as aging and aware of times in life he had no fears. He is living his reality of age, declining health. I felt love and compassion, I felt fortunate for the strong relationship and connection to my family. I wanted to be like my Father, and really live life as life is. On March 22nd, I learned my Dad didn’t want to sell everything. So, I offered to come home and help. I decided that if my parents needed to move to town, I could come home.

Honestly, at first, I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea. I slept on it, I thought and I thought. As I held the idea of leaving SCVRJP, it opened up the potential to just do Restorative Justice differently. At the fundraising dinner, I felt a sense of a new chapter, an accomplishment or new level for SVRJP. The board of directors had fully handled the event, they did an awesome job! SCVRJP is in our community. Leaving might cause it to look different. The question came to mind about making this change. I thought about seasons, I decided to give the summer to making the transition. By April 1, I had made up my mind. I was going to leave, and take the time to find what I want to do next.

My heart is at peace about my decision. I will miss many, many people. However, I will enjoy a slowed down pace. I’m ready to put 12 hour days behind me. Non-profit director work requires a lot. I am looking forward to doors that might open if I finally get that book written, or I focus on being a free-lance consultant. Those thoughts are for the fall. Right now, this summer, is about helping SCVRJP turn the page to a new chapter. Many people have contributed gifts of time and resources. On behalf of all the past volunteers and especially our speakers that share stories, I am going to see that the transition is positive. The last lap of my service here begins, I want to say THANK YOU, to all of you that shared in part of the last decade.

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Restorative Justice Circles talking or transformation, using key elements for change.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (www.scvrjp.org) has been doing 100’s of Circles a year, since 2006.  In that time we have successfully placed topics in the center of the Circle.  We have consistently used a structure, based on the work of Kay Pranis (more posts referencing Kay).  The key elements of a Restorative Justice Circles, have been featured in two books by Kay, the Little Book of Circle Process and Peacemaking Circles from Crime to Community.

These Circle experience spans school settings, severe crime and significant loss, to staff meetings structured with Circle and our many Circles held to address public health issues in our community.  Highlighted in this post, are the rationale and reasons for using the key elements.  Talking Circles provide connection and potential to repair harm.  To transform the way people see themselves and others in connection to community and to transform behavior instantly, try the Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle Elements, as described here.

A few of the commonly skipped or overlooked Key Elements:  Consensus to Values, 4 Stages.  A Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle is more than just using a talking piece.

Consensus to Values This aspect of Circle is more than just having people write on a paper plate.  This aspect is also designed to pull people together in a community that has decided how they will relate to each other.  The first steps of “community” if not geography, would be common interests.  A specific pass of the talking piece asking people to reflect on the values in the center, as part of the way of being together, deepens the connection before exploring topics, facing challenges or repairing harm.

4 Stages  (I am assuming you know these, there are many posts here highlighting) When we take time to do some questions, before the deeper conversation, or intention of the Circle, we are reminding people that we can make important connections by caring and learning about each other.  The simple content provides a context for common likes, it builds connection.  Some of my favorites lately have been to ask people about the next big accomplishment.  Fun results when I asked another training group to share 3 things about their shoes.

The final part when using the 4 stages, is to give opportunity for people in the Circle to identify their “take aways” or reflections on the experience.  This serves for people to identify quickly and immediately the benefit of the experience.  Like speaking to the Center in Circle promotes self – agency, so does speaking to your experience at the end of the Circle.  The use of the last phase helps us know we did good work together, it is another opportunity to allow people to share from the wise-centered part of who they are.  When doing Circles around trauma or emotionally heavy topics, it allows people to  prepare for returning to the un-structured everyday communication styles.

When you do more in Circle, than just employe a talking piece, you are creating space for safety.  Safety promotes vulnerability, vulnerability becomes a responsibility (tweet me) and a responsible keeper uses that for the greater good of  all in Circle.  Using the stages show respect and places the power, in each person and the Center of the Circle.

Key Elements Restorative Justice Circle

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Filed under Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, Community, Elementary Classroom Circles, Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice in Schools, SCVRJP, Talking Piece, Teaching RJ

From “teacher” to “keeper”, for successful restorative justice circles.

There has been an amazing increase in school-based Restorative Justice Circles.  All across the United States, schools, districts, teachers and trainers have emerged.  There is an excellent blog at Edutopia, for schools implementing (by Dr Fania Davis).

Years of teaching teachers has provided experiences that if I want to leave skills where I train, I need to make the material relevant, useful, accessible to the students, and especially if I am training teachers.  In a recent webinar by the Zehr Institute, (you can view the webinar on the link), what I have learned was reinforced by those implementing school wide Restorative Practices.  The comments by Dr. Davis shares, about school culture, especially resonated.

One foundational key concept, is the relationship to Circle participants by the Circle Keeper. (click to tweet)

I use this image as a reminder.

shapes

(c)scvrjp

The square represents when people are on different sides.  Assumptions are made about the other “side”.  There is a win-lose, right wrong, above-below based on judgements of those on the opposite or different side.  The triangle represents power, at the very top, 1 person.  At the bottom, many people.  This is the typical structure in a classroom, or in a business or hierarchy.  The Circle, is where people connect to the center.  Spokes to the center, connected to the center, equal dignity and worth of each and every person.  The role of the keeper is to bring the best out, the ‘keeper’ in each person in the Circle.

Training provides tips and techniques for moving into the relationship dynamic of Circle.  Some teachers, will explain the move to students.  Those with deeper connections to relationships and stronger social-emotional skills are naturally able to move to this dynamic.  It takes practice, trust and open-ness to the concepts of Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles.

Mid-november Circle Forward should be released, and it is my understanding this is part of the book.  I am looking forward to another resource for school-based/community building circles!  Pre-order at Living Justice Press.

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Filed under Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice in Schools, SCVRJP, Teaching RJ, Tip of the Week