Common sense circle caution, using restorative justice process with youth.

My favorite way to do restorative justice is with Circle process.  I have developed a clear structured style of using 4 stages.  If you aren’t familiar with that, you could read all the entires in the category: circle stages.  The other basic restorative justice circle elements include those described by Kay Pranis.  By keeping certain common elements of Circle, like the use of ritual/opening and a talking piece you can provide structure that allows people a freedom to share and open up.

Although the structure and elements of Circle should prevail, common sense (which has become for to uncommon) should also be used.

Prepare.  An important aspect of Restorative Justice is to prepare the parties to be together.  To understand the intentions of restorative justice.  This takes skills, you don’t control the outcome, because the process creates the outcome.  This can also take preparation of yourself, to let go.

Prevent wrong.  If you have students in conflict, make sure agreements are in place about taking breaks.  Make sure you have spoken with the students about handling listening, if strong feelings come up.  Because you prepare people in the process of Circle, with opening, into and acquainted phases, these lead to space of understanding.

Practice your habits.  The common sense part here, is to implement the process correctly, by setting up yourself to develop the skills.  If you are learning to cook, you don’t tackle the hardest recipe that requires special tools you don’t have.  You would start where you are, obtain the skill and knowledge, the special tools and move on.

If you have a weak Circle, don’t abandon the process.  Some Circles are a home-run!  Some Circles are a base hit.  Seldom do they strike out completely.  Very, seldom in my experience.  I believe in this process and after facilitating 1,000’s it has become embedded in who I am.  That would not have happened if I had given up.  If you can find the common sense and practicality of including your personality with the elements of the process I think you will have success.

Other common sense reminders:  Circle confidentiality does not cover “mandating reporting” topics.  If a student makes a disclosure, they are ready for the process to begin.  Depending on the Circle and circumstances, I would make sure that was addressed somehow.  Follow-up one to one, or a clarification about keeper making the report.

Balance the context of your Circle, in a juvenile detention center we met right before meal time, the youth had a natural transition and knew when to respect the time.  When a school was only able to give short amounts of time, we held the prep meetings, but conducted the problem solving circle after school, so we had more time.

Being a keeper is a rewarding experience.  The process is rich, a technology that lets people be the best they can.  Listening to others, really listening is something anyone can give to another.  You feel better when you give.  You also feel better when validated and listened to, common sense things, that only a Circle process and provide equally to a group.

5 crucial Restorative concepts for schools and trainers.

School-based Restorative Justice – Restorative Practices – Restorative Measures . . . In my opinion, they all funnel down to practices in school designed to influence the general culture (everyone in a community) and provide individual interventions (case specific).

When I first started training schools, I used the same process for developing new programs at St Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program, SCVRJP.  This was to hold the concepts of Circle/Restorative Justice and place with that, the issue/topic/intervention.  This seems to be working.  Imagine two halves of a plastic egg coming together. 

Photo from: www.chicaandjo.com

The sum of what you create is the force of nature.  I was familiar with school-based work before I started training.  I also had experience working with alternative schools, school-within-a-school programs and providing trainings about Restorative Justice to school staff.

Teaching teachers . . . it’s a career accomplish to say I feel competent.  No offense, it’s like trying to put a stand-up comedian up in front of his or her peers!  The audience/trainer dynamic is very important, very, very important when implementing restorative justice in schools.  A thank you to those that helped me be a better trainer and an apology to those that had me when I was new!  So concept 1: get a good, experienced trainer!

Concept 2: Exclusion is a form of violence.  Do not try to merge your restorative practice with a formal response like sending youth out to a different room.  Restorative Justice is about the dialogue between those impacted.  The people most involved in an incident come up with ways to make it right.  A teacher is speaking out against restorative practices, and from what I read, she was not part of any process to make it right.

Concept 3: Time.  Teachers, I need you to know and trainers you have to teach/convince/get school staff to try to understand – RJ will give you more time in your class.  School staff are overwhelmed!  I can have a to do list, but I don’t have to spend all day in an appointment, 5 days a week.  Consider that teachers have a to-do list AND are busy all day.  The days that I went to schools and helped coach (a follow-up to training) and did Circle after Circle, one class to another – I nearly lost my mind!  The teacher’s lounge was a safe place!  After being around all those little bodies, all that different energy, managing all those little voices, little hands, little feet . . . whew I was WIPED out!  Tell me to try one more thing that seems “kumbaya” . . . pfffffffff!    I have that perspective and I’m the advocate/trainer!  I have compassion for the teachers – I get their environment.  It is that passion, for both teachers and restorative justice that you need to bring.  You need to help teachers see that this tool will create a better environment for their class.  The distractions that take up time will be reduced, the time spent doing discipline will be reduced, the connections to kids will be improved, the satisfaction with teaching will be improved.

Concept 4: Heart.  Kids that need you will push you away.  You have to bring a heart that believes in the heart of each and every student.  This is not easy.  Every cell in your body maybe thinking or feeling “you little . . . rascal”.  However, if you believe in the heart of that kid, and you use your own heart to lead you to find out what makes that kid tick, you will change that child’s life forever.  As I re-read this concept, my lips got tight and I felt angry, “you little . . .” I thought about when I feel wronged, I feel justified in my anger.  Justified anger causes trouble.  As I read on about the heart, I felt my anger go down, I thought about the compassion in my heart.  I thought about the times I listened and came to new understandings.

I thought about the student who acknowledged she didn’t want to be in the Circle.  She went on to talk about the fight with her step mom that morning.  She talked about the long-standing conflict, she took ownership about her statements that caused harm that morning and she even expressed maybe doing something different.  Imagine being in a little body of 13 and having that kind of conflict before school.

The more you use your heart, with students, with conflict, with others, the more you have a compassion skill set.  The easier it is to access this and have it work for you and for others.  Concept 5) make the path to compassion.

Restorative Justice Circles, congruent with evidence-based trauma support treatments.

The training title:

Understanding and Treating Traumatized Youth: An Integrated, Evidence-Based Approach

 The training was provided by Cross Country Education (www.CrossCountryEducation.com).

We learned that trauma treatment has 3 phases (originated by Judith Herman).  The first phase is Safety & Stabilization.  One technique was to use the senses to calm and ground, touch, for example was giving the young person something to hold, squishy, cold, prickly.

I immediately thought of the safety established in Circle, and how some students gravitate to the squishy, playful talking pieces.  Safety is when the enviroment is free from threats.  Circles ground us with an opening, and predictability.  We know how this works, it is structured with a talking piece, and the guidelines/values for how we will relate.  Everyone makes a committment to those values.  We know people will be trying to do their best.

I realized that the squishy ball, the playful talking pieces work as well as any.  Sometimes we have fun, stretching and shaking the green fringe ball other times, you forget the person is even holding a toy.  You forget because you are so drawn into the sharing.  Youth consistently out share, what adults would have expected.  If that adult is unfamiliar with Circle.  Even in all the Circles I have been part of, sometimes I am amazed at the disclosure.

This ties into the 2nd evidence based strategy congruent with Restorative Justice, storytelling.  We learned how storytelling helps move the trauma in your brain.  From non-language reptilian center, to the cortex area that includes language. 

I have an ego and I was enjoying the training because it was reinforcing.  The day before I was telling a speaker about his amygdala, being the shape of almonds!  He said mine might be almonds, but his are peas!  We shared a laugh, but he understood my explanation of sharing his story. 

In 2009 trainer Frida Rundell, Ph.D. gave us almonds, and explained our amygdala and I STILL have those very almonds!  I was at the IIRP conference and the session was sharing how restorative justice changes the brain!  I thought about “change of behavior, by a change of brain“!  I’ve stuck with change of heart!

Did you know trauma can make our DNA express itself differently?  It is called epigenetic changes.  Scientists stressed a pregnant rat enough that her pups were born with gray fur (instead of white).  I think about the trauma of domestic violence.  I am motivated to try to bring the healing components of restorative justice to survivors.

I am also a bit skeptical about all this pressure and emphasis on “evidence-based”.  Common sense should prevail.  We don’t have “evidence” of a higher power – however we know that can have a huge impact on people.  Can we create studies that help us?  I think yes.  Can we generalize that what evidence worked in New York City will work in Africa, just because it is “evidence-based”?  It frustrates me.

We put all this stock in the evidence.  The DSM (diagnostic Statistical Manual) is THE book, that gives you the criteria for mental health.  The book has a V -code for Bereavement – apparently if it lasts more than 2 months, you have a problem.  Really?  I mean really?  It seems to me we all know, it takes more than 2 months.  I get that people develop symptoms that become issues.  My point is that we all KNOW it takes more than 2 months.  If we rely exclusively on evidence based, we dismiss our common sense, our hard-earned professional wisdom and we aren’t helping each other as humans.  I prefer the model blogged on here.

A “do not miss” training opportunity! Restorative Justice addressing bully behavior.

My friend Nancy has been hosting week-long sessions in school-based Restorative Justice/Restorative Measures.  I have helped her out the last few years.  The finale of the week is the Circle Networking Day, she fwd’d me this information today:

The Circle Networking Day
Bullying: Preparation for the Restorative Response
 
June 17, 2011, Webster School in Minneapolis. The Circle Networking Day is open to all June Seminar alumni and restorative justice practitioners interested in restorative applications in schools and youth settings. Circle Keepers: Kay Pranis and Mel Buckholtz.
 
Please register at this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CAN2011. The registration fee is $25.
 
Bullying and cyber bullying is in the news and in legislative committees. Some districts are responding to bullying with zero tolerance policies, however, the US Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control recommend a more comprehensive approach:  formative discipline and school, family and community strategies. 
 
Well prepared restorative practices can help to ensure family engagement, community involvement and offender, victim and bystander contribution in a process that is formative and non-punitive. The question for the Circle Networking Day is “What is ‘well prepared’?”  
 
Mary Thissen-Milder, State HIV Prevention Coordinator, Hassan Samantar from PACER, Mary Ticiu, Assistant Principal at Stillwater High School,  and Olaseeni Soewu, Mediation Center International (Logos, Nigeria)  will offer their perspectives on bullying interventions in schools. Nancy Riestenberg will present an overview of Bullying in Minnesota Schools: An analysis of the Minnesota Student Survey, 2010.  Everyone who attends will also provide insight. Except for the brief overview of the MSS study, the discussions will be held in Circle. 
 
The Minnesota Department of Education will summarize the discussion in a written brief. Join us June 17!
 
Contact Nancy Riestenberg, 651-582-8433, nancy.riestenberg@state.mn.us for more information.
The Circle Networking Day is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minnesota Restorative Services Coalition.

Restorative Justice Circle training, for keepers and practitioners.

Attached is a 2 page pdf – highlighting some of the training responses and goals.  This also includes an easy to use registration form.

SCVRJP Circle Trainings 2011

Sessions are scheduled for April, July and October in River Falls Wisconsin.  St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice is 40 miles and 50 minutes from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.

You can also contract with SCVRJP, and have me come on-site for trainings.  Training fee’s have not increased since 2009, the revenue generated goes right back to work for Restorative Justice and helps support the mission of SCVRJP to promote a culture of peace and belonging.

Keeper-experience.  It is not uncommon for me to keep 5-7 Circles a week, for a variety of ages and audiences.  From elementary schools to prisons the basics are the same.  The trainings are a great foundation or refresher for Circlekeepers.  I have brought Circles to public health issues and our local community needs.  We (SCVRJP) use Circles (victim empathy seminars) when a formal victim-offender conference is not going to work.  SCVRJP also addressed underage consumption (alcohol kills more teens per year than all other drugs combined), substance use (more teens smoke pot than cigarettes), teen driving (the number one cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes) and our newest offering Restorative Response Circles address suicide (the number 2 cause of death for teens).

In 2003 SCVRJP reached 35 people.  In 2010 4,908, that is 10% of the population of one of the two counties we serve.  All the services I have created utilize the Restorative Justice Circle process.  I rely heavily on the work of Kay Pranis, author: Peacemaking Circles.

School-based effectiveness.  I have a great resource in a 3rd grade teacher who has been using this technique in her classroom for 3 years now.  She helped coach me on designing the curriculum as “teacher” friendly.  I understand how to work with implementation challenges and share the materials in a manner that teachers can duplicate.

Passion and Energy.  I try to be humble, however this post is turning into post to encourage you to get trained by me!  I LOVE CIRCLES!  I get excited when we all agree to honor the values, even after hundreds of Circles.  I hold close to core values and firmly, wholeheartedly believe in the powerful transformation that listening, empathy and respect can bring to each and every person.   Consistently I get feedback about my passion and energy.  I have bolded this as a value alongside “keeper-experience and school-based effectiveness” because it is the aspect that ties this together.  I know what I am doing (experience) have developed my skills (effectiveness) and bring the contagious factor (passion).  I would love to work with your school or agency, so please give me a call and we can explore promoting Restorative Justice Circles.

ps- I really welcome any comments from anyone who has participated in a training session with me!

Coming together to share school-based Restorative Justice.

Colorado schools promote restorative justice with a school summit.

http://www.timescall.com/news_story.asp?ID=25029

The full article highlights aspects of the youth-led restorative justice work happening in Colorado schools.  More evidence rolls in on using the philosophy and approach to build community and respond to harm in a way that does not exclude students or interupt academics.

The power of relationships is at the heart of restorative work.  I recently posted a Facebook update, mentioning I was in a bad mood.

A response was posted:  “Does it help to know that whenever I have a day like that at school, I run a circle in my classroom the next day.”  I was happy to hear that and then this was posted: “My relationships with my students are fabulous this year – and a lot of that comes from circles. Thank you Kris!”

That did improve my mood.  The response came from someone 1,000 miles and 5 states away.  We met 6 months ago when I was in her school providing training for the school and staff to implement Restorative Justice and Circles.

The brief comments on my Facebook wall, speak to the effectiveness and power of Circles.  The benefits for students are obvious when we retain them in school and help with their sense of belonging.  Research by the International Institute of Restorative Practices (http://www.safersanerschools.org/) revealed how these approaches help staff.

I’m excited and cautious to see the youth-led initiative.  It is complex to hold the philosophical approach of restorative justice and merge that with process.  Our youth today, are faced with challenges and skills that I can’t understand at 42 years old.  My biggest fear is that the youth-“leaders” and “facilitators” will be set apart from the “participants”.  I am all about promoting equality and it’s not always easy.

I was looking at a Circle of college students, I saw some skeptical looks and confusion.  It was the first day of class and after a year off, the word about my teaching style hadn’t reached this group.  I asked the group to keep an open mind.  I reminded them that they grew up in an enviornment of getting stars for doing good and detentions for doing bad.   I explained that it would take sometime to understand how to hold people accountable without using exclusion or punitive responses.

Congratulations to the Colorado school community and the group from New Orleans, I am confident your efforts will change lives!

If you are interested in contracting with St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program to provide on-site school trainings, please contact me at the office 715-425-1100.  SCVRJP also offers on-site training.

Legislation to promote funding for school-based restorative justice.

A recent email:

I hope you had a great holiday!  Congressman Cohen is working to reintroduce the Restorative Justice in Schools Act for the 112th Congress.  Please let me know if you would like your organization to be listed as one that supports this legislation.  Below is the draft text we will use to send to members and I have attached the text of the bill to this email.
 
We are also in need of a Republican member who may want to join with Congressman Cohen in introducing the bill.  Please let me know if you have worked with a Republican member on this issue who might be interested.
 
I look forward to working with all of you this Congress!
 
Kind regards,
 
Reisha
 
Reisha Phills

Legislative DirectorCongressman Steve Cohen (TN-09)

(202) 225-3265

(202) 225-5663 fax

Support Programs to End the “School-to-Prison” Pipeline
Become an Original Cosponsor the Restorative Justice in Schools Act
 
Dear Colleague,
 
We encourage you to cosponsor legislation that promotes providing school personnel (teachers and counselors) with essential training that has the potential to reduce youth incarceration.
 
Restorative justice is an innovative approach to conflict resolution which shows promising results throughout the country and abroad.  It focuses on repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict rather than simply punishing the offender.  Too often, we rely on harsh punishments, like incarceration, which prove to be expensive and counter-productive in many cases, especially when applied to youth offenders.  Many school systems involve the police for non-violent incidents and feed the “school-to-prison” pipeline.  More importantly, it is a victim centered process that gives the person harmed an opportunity to have a voice in the process and subsequent healing.  There are many studies which show the cycle of victims becoming the aggressors when a process is not available that allows healing.
 
Restorative justice processes and practices can serve as a cost-effective and useful alternative.  It holds juvenile offenders accountable to their victims and their community, and helps them understand the impact of their actions. It establishes a non-adversarial process that brings together offenders, their victims, and other interested parties to ask three major questions:
 
·         What is the nature of the harm resulting from the crime?
·         How should this harm be repaired?
·         And who is responsible for the repair?
 
Our bill allows local education agencies to use ESEA funding for key school personnel such as teachers and counselors to receive training in restorative justice and conflict resolution.  This training will provide them with the essential tools to address minor student conflicts.

Coaching and conducting Circles outside of my schools and community.

The SCVRJP logo has 3 swirls.  The swirls represent the triad’s of restorative justice.  Most important is to remember that Victim, Offender and Community – are 3 entities that compose restorative justice process.

It is so easy to only serve one group.

On a coaching and demonstrating visit to a school, I recommended they get community members in Circles.  By taking the “at-risk” kids and making a Circle for them, (very well intended).  They are creating more “us” & “them” than intended.  By they way, these kids were beyond “at-risk” they were some tough young people.   They needed peer role models in the Circle, they needed an increased sense of community rather than to be isolated with other “trouble-makers”.

When it came down to leading, demonstrating the Circles I got the job done.  I got the group to do pretty well with Circle (for me first engagement with them).  I had students with me, so that helped.  I had to use all I could to get them to even be silent one at a time.  It was a challenge and opportunity for my skills, and what I teach teachers to do in Circle.

We used silence activities.  For example, passing the talking piece until you feel your silence is heard.  Most the young people couldn’t be quiet up until that time, for fear of not getting noticed.  I used lots and lots of non-judgemental language and guidelines for making the Circle work. 

When the talking piece was not in play, I saw some signs (hand gestures) going back and forth.  I dove in with a piece!  “Tell us what you think listening looks like!” and encouragement  “Let’s all look at the person talking so we are sure to understand each and every person.”  I had to role model listening and so did the staff. 

At the end of that Circle, I asked for something they did well in the Circle.  Not only did they offer that they listened, they offered that they appreciated being heard.  Well in terms relevant for the group.  Self-disclosure about not being heard in my family, and  “it was good to be heard in the Circle, even if it was only my silence” left me knowing I introduced the process.

If we want to shift cultures in our schools, we HAVE GOT to use community members.  We have to use Circles for the entire community, those at risk situations and those situations in which harm has occured.  Using the model in one classroom will not change the school.  Implementing a change in climate means getting as many people involved in the process as possible.

I was hired to train at a school and the staff had evaluated restorative justice at another district.  A story shared during training made me 1.)glad everyone heard this and 2) validated the use of Circle as a training technique.  The story, and I don’t ever forget this one . . . visiting staff, asked students how they deal with teasing and bullying, the answer was: “that doesn’t happen at our school”.

If you hire me to come train your school, build in the days for me to come and visit, to coach and help implement.  It will help.

Atten Schools! Violence prevention and conflict resolution solutions that work!

The Saturday Pioneer Press, front page story: Friend Me, Fight Me.  Short version, issues outside of school, erupted at school and a Mother is very, very upset.

I shake my head.  I get confused.  My google alert for ‘Restorative Practices’ has changed over time.  In the last year the references have moved from dental and yoga articles, to articles about Restorative Justice methods in schools.  The philosophy is generally the same.  As a movement “practices” emerged for schools and  “justice” stayed for community or system services.  I maintain what I do as School-based Restorative Justice.  There is a quote about peace & justice, that for me, justifies the word justice when working in schools.

Here is why, well implemented Restorative Justice would have helped in the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ situation.

1.) Prevention – building up the climate and culture of your school, prevents violence.  Isolating grade levels, dividing students out creates “us” and “them”.  By hosting Circle in a school, students get to know each other.  The more you know about someone the less likely you are to hurt them.  What is it . . . an ounce of prevention is more than a pound of cure.  This is where teachers push back on the trainer . . . time, we don’t have time.  I train them, you can select how you use your time.  Use community building circles as part of academic delivery!  Teach in Circle, if kids feel safe, they learn more!  Test scores can increase by using school-based restorative justice!  I suspect the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ could have been avoided in an environment where violence prevention was emphasized and implemented WELL.

2.)Values/Citizenship – when schools or communities create more rules, then people focus on how to not get caught breaking that rule.  Students need to learn how they are impacting people.  You need to teach them to listen, in order to teach empathy.  The ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ story is a great example.  The students thought about having it at school, so teachers would break it up!  Students are aware of where they can have behaviors so they will get caught or not.  School-based Restorative Justice teaches and informs you of how important who you are is.  By acknowledging that everyone is a social, emotional, mental and spiritual being we allow space for non-judgemental self-expression.  Students no longer have to “prove” themselves, because they are being heard.  Most of the “proving” is to identify with a negative culture, because unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do on our climate and culture.   Young men defend their “honor” and when taunted to fight, rather than be accepted for who they are  . . . ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’

3.)Inclusion – School-based Restorative Justice, had it been in place (and been implemented well)  for ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ would have resulted in a conflict resolution that involved those most impacted.  In the photo the Mom is standing over her son.  She would have been involved in the process to repair the harm.  She would have been given a ‘say’ about what needed to happen.  The support people around each student would have been given opportunity to share their voices.  Students who have authored a harmful act, hear from the direct target and BYSTANDERS, which is so very important.

4.)Solution focused – None of us can change the past.  Understanding why someone did something is important to move ahead.  Operating, in the moment to respond and repair things, and then moving to the future and making agreements and commitments is part of school-based restorative justice.  I just wonder if this type of method, vs the formal suspension, expulsion could have prevented the front page splash for Anoka School District.   I can hear the push back . . . students need discipline.  Yes, they do.   Restorative discipline does not mean a “time out” doesn’t happen, it means it is done in a manner that includes those most impacted, focusing on accountability and healing. 

It is a shift to turn matters over to Circles and accept the outcomes they create.  From seeing more and more things in the paper about schools and bullying, schools and social media, schools and violence, I continue to advocate for Restorative Practices, School-Based Restorative Justice, Restorative Measures, what ever you call it if it is the philosophy and it is done well.  Amen.

As a side, this mornings Google Alert gave me lots of hope, of the 10 results only 2 were not about Restorative Justice!  Here are the results:

News4 new results for restorative practices
Conflict resolution tool coming to schools
CottageCountryNow.ca
Boulder DA: Police should step back from school discipline
Daily Camera
“We definitely have a restorative practices philosophy to all of our discipline,” said Michele DeBerry, director of athletics, activities, attendance and …

MPS honors prosecutor for restorative justice efforts
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MPS now enjoys an army of restorative practices advocates,”

Justice, community and discipline in Oakland schools (Community …
Oakland Local
According to Barbara McClung of OUSD’s Complementary Learning

Blogs4 new results for restorative practices
Sacrament of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice | Theology as …
By Jacques Haers
Theology as a Process – http://jacqueshaers.wordpress.com/

What is Restorative Yoga? | Yoga Matrika

Restorative Circles: Justice without Classism
By Jerry Koch-Gonzalez
This alternative justice system exists in a variety of forms knows as restorative justice and restorative practices.

Class Action – http://www.classism.org/

 restorativepractices.co.uk – http://www.restorativepractices.co.uk/
‘Restorative Justice’ School Program Reduces Student Delinquency
Shared by Yvette Vignando – The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) provides education, consulting and research supporting the …
organizedwisdom.com/restorative-justice-school…/med

School-based Restorative Justice is PBIS (positive behavioral interventions & supports)

This website has an informative video on PBIS.  They use a triangle and what I have known and taught as a public health model, primary, secondary, tertiary or universal, selected and indicated.  For years, I’ve been teaching the use of restorative justice classroom circles – to address all students.  I’ve been teaching these three categories in workshops and trainings.

In my trainings with teachers I would engage the audience by asking for a volunteer, I would offer that the audience could help “volunteer” people.  I asked for the “universal student” the one that teachers did not have to worry about the “rule” follower.  That person came to the front of my presentation area.

I then asked for another volunteer, the “at-risk” student.  The one who you knew was on the edge.  Maybe things at home weren’t 100% or this student challenged the rules.  The audience would call out a co-worker and send them up.

Finally I asked for the person to represent the student that got in trouble.  The audience was usually more comfortable and sent forward a staff with laughs.

I’ve done this will lots of groups.  I use the three standing at the front of the room as props.  I ask audience about seeing themselves in all three people, all three levels (primary, secondary, tertiary) or (universal, selected and indicated).

I take people by the elbow and move them around.  I demonstrate when we take the student who caused harm out of the classroom or school.  Remove them without communication to the other two, we make the climate, less trustworthy.  I ask the group, of those that were harmed by this student, who were they.  The teachers/audience can see if was probably one of the other two students.

I show how school-based restorative justice helps give voice to the victim, the bystanders and helps them ALL be involved in the problem-solving, conflict resolution.  Giving students the chance to explain to each other how they see positive behaviors and how students themselves can benefit from a peaceful school climate.

I have studied shapes for years now.  I like how this triangle demonstrates the three groupings.  I have also learned that the triangle can represent power.  Even though the top of the triangle is 1-5% is that the group with “power” in our schools.  If you consider “power” being influence over others.  How much time do we spend responding when there is a seriously violent incident?

My heart went out to the community in Marinette, WI after a student held classmates hostage and killed himself. (Summary article).  I could only think how if we address the needs of victims, we could prevent these types of incidents.

It seems the person who is hurt, eventually will retaliate with a perceived justification to right earlier wrongs.

I see School-based Restorative Justice as very efficient, PBIS and I know schools around the nation are being pushed to implement these strategies.  The website PBIS.ORG, is full of helpful presentations and I see restorative justice as part of every item I reviewed.