Restorative Justice promotion, took a new step.

One of the most popular posts on my blog, has a picture of stairs.  The point of the blog, is learning stairs.  Playing off the term ‘learning curve’.  I do think the popularity of the post, is not in it’s content, but in the photo.  People search stairs, and that photo catches them and gives them the link to my blog.  I hope people that get to that post find it helpful.

When I used the photo I found it helpful to conceptualize the rise and run of stairs.  To taking information to the next step, having enough to get to the next level.  I found this in action for the concept of School-based Restorative Justice.  In a break out session at the IIRP conference, two wonderful leaders of Restorative Justice, Bruce Schenk and Terry O’Connel presented a session on implementing restorative practices in schools.

One area of the presentation I took strong note of, was the suggestion and recommendation for talking to school staff.  Today I have 67 posts tagged on this topic.  I’ve learned how to approach and talk to schools.  But I was never informed how to LISTEN to schools.

It was so simply, like a lightbulb.  Use a Socratic method!  (I have no link to what this method is, I don’t like how it is described.  I will share my understanding.)  Socratic method is gently inquiring and really listening to what a person shares.  A kind way of framing questions that really ask “how’s that workin’ for ya”.

I have met many educators frustrated and feeling disempowered to change, what they see is not working.  I have seen OVER, OVER and OVER again the demostrated and effective results of using restorative justice.  When the session participant asked, “what can I DO?”  the answer was “do, nothing” but “ask everything”.  (ok, I modified that a little bit).

Point being, that if you inquire, the response will boil down to an acknowledgement to try something else.  I loved it!

I feel a great honor to see a change in education.  I’ve always been an “outsider” to schools, either as a family therapist, trying to collaborate or a social worker trying to help a student.  I always felt “outside” as a parent.  I’ve been a close observer and I have been allowed in the building, for meetings, IEP’s, trainings, etc.  I feel like I’ve had a pretty clear view, but the view of an outsider.

I see the change in zero tolerance.  I see articles on school districts leaving the hard fast exclusion models.  I see more character education plans, and MANY aspects to social, emotional learning and EI schools (my favorite piece).

The idea that we will just listen, lets me know that the time has come that collective wisdom about community and resolving conflict has arrived.  Its arrived and it’s in our schools.  As restorative justice practitioners we just need to tap that wisdom.

I can’t wait to do my next school training session!