Daily Archives: December 17, 2008

A students final paper – Into to RJ Class

Anong Vang

Soc. 389

Professor Miner

14 December 2008

Final Paper


            When I first took this class I never imagined that it would be so interesting.  I’ve taken many sociology classes and criminal justice classes, but no class like this one.  When I first registered for this class Sociology 389: Special Topics, I thought it was going to be like every other lecture classes.  However, I was wrong.  This class is much more than just teaching and learning from books.  This class allows hands on experience and gives thorough knowledge about what this course is all about.  I feel like I’ve learned so much and gained so much more from this class than in any of my other classes.  I also have short term memory, but this class I will always remember what went on. 

            I thought the circle process of restorative justice was lame in the beginning.  I really questioned about whether this circle process works or not.  I had doubt that the circle process would actually solve any problems between two or more people.  Of course I didn’t know all about the circle process and how it worked when I thought about these things.  After taking the class, my opinion changed dramatically.  I now believe that the circle process can be used to solve almost all problems or issues between people.  I believe that because I’ve experienced it myself.  It’s a process that allows for dialogue between two or more people that are in conflict to happen.  It’s a process that allows of those individuals to talk about their feelings and thoughts before, during, and after the conflicts.  It’s a process to allow each opposing sides to understand one another.  They don’t have to agree on certain things, but to respect each other’s opinions, values, needs, and ideas.  When I first did the circle process I didn’t understand the point of it, but later on I came to like it a lot.  For one thing, when it’s your turn to hold the talking piece, everyone listens to you.  It’s not because they have to, but they choose to.  They could disrupt you or disobey the rules to the circle process, but they choose not to, therefore, they choose to listen.  It’s a process where you can talk and no one else can interrupt you.  Often times I try to talk but everyone else is talking too so I never get heard because my voice is very soft.  When I know that I can’t hear myself then that’s when no one is listening to me.  In the circle it’s nice because everyone respects what you have to say and listens.  Moreover, you also have the opportunity to hear what other people have to say without anyone interrupting.  I have never experienced so much respect until I entered the circle process.  I like everything about it.  The circle process allows everyone each value and everyone has honored and respected those values.  I wish life was as organized, respectful, and as positive as the circle process.

            I could talk so much about the circle process, but the most important thing I took away from the circle process was respect.  Everyone respected what each person had to say, everyone respected each other’s stories and opinions.  I enjoyed the class overall.  I would take the class over again if I could.  The whole class itself was a learning process.  The greatest thing is you learn something new about yourself or someone else everyday.  We were all treated equally: men, women, students, and teachers.  Everyone was great. This class is so much worth my time.  I have never felt more knowledgeable about any other class then this restorative justice class.  I feel like I’ve graduated from a very intense course because I know I have learned and gained so much from this class.       


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Filed under Belonging, Circle Process, College Circles, Community, Full Circle Experiences, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice, Teaching RJ

School Settings: Restorative Justice or Restorative Practices

In my opinion Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices are exactly the same thing.  I have gotten feedback that “Justice” is not a good word for schools to use.  That’s fine, if “Practices” works better for your school or community – use that.  Being aware of practicing the philosophy is most important.

I stick to calling our work in schools Restorative Justice.  For one, that’s what I believe that it is.  The journey to schools, evolved from our Restorative Justice program.  Maybe if our organization was just starting, or started in a school setting we would be using a different title.

I was being introduced for a training, and the school principal doing the introduction, made an excellent point.  He explained the success of Restorative Justice in the juvenile justice system, was now being utilized in rj-busschool communities.  He went on to explain that the trainer, had experience in both, and was one of only a few people that he knew able to bring this information.  It was worth the $20 I paid him to say that (just kidding!).

Bringing RJ to schools is one of the most rewarding things I do. 

Catherine’s stories and experiences in her classroom are amazing!  I’m so glad she’s sharing those in this blog.  I get feedback from other school practitioners, and each one reinforces the need to keep offering training sessions.

We can relate the use of Circles to Social Emotional Learning, important for academic achievement.  I’d like to recommend the book Compassionate Classroom for every teacher!  That clears up any questions about safety and learning links.

Schools have a variety of options for implementation.  The results are amazing, my friends at Central MI have saved 465 suspension days (Jan – Oct data) to the schools in their district.  Here is a link to a recent article on their program.

Regardless of the name – using conferences and circles – inclusive processes focusing on making things right and engaging those involved is the BUS to to take!

Have a Happy Day!



Filed under Circle Process, Community, Elementary Classroom Circles, offenders, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice in Schools, RJ Resources, SCVRJP, Teaching RJ, Victims