Tag Archives: school-based restorative justice

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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Restorative Justice Circles promotes one voice, as speakers share one at a time.

A recent comment mentioned a struggle when someone in a Circle consistently declines or is not moving at the same pace.  I work really hard at keeping the Circle equally engaged.  Here are some thoughts regarding equal engagement in Circle.

I teach and train keepers of Restorative Justice Circles, to promote equality in dignity and worth.  This means in language and speech about describing the Circle.  Saying phrases that might seem cheesy, yet promote this sense of community and connection.  For example “lets sit equal distance from the Center” , “next to each other, knees and shoulders”, “if we were a tire we would go down the road smooth and round”.  If you request it kindly, gently and from a good heart, people hear it that way.  There are other ways to promote within the space, making sure if you are in the room you are in the Circle.  Not having a different chair, or some people using bean bags.  I co-create with the space I have, moving furniture if needed.

When explaining the talking piece I talk about equal opportunity, because it will be going around the entire Circle.  I speak to sharing, explaining I am looking for a word or phrase.  I also move deeper and explain the second stage, looking for a paragraph or two.  A skilled Circle teacher I know will even address it kindly and inclusively outside of Circle.  She’ll approach the student, state her observation (without judgement) “I noticed we didn’t get to hear any of your stories, maybe next time”  or state that she hopes to hear these.

The next thing I teach and train, is to monitor the emotional climate, making it safe for everyone to share.   I am a firm believer in role modeling and honoring the talking piece as the keeper.  If not, you are not promoting that equality and equity that a Circle provides.  The Circle does the work, not the facilitator, and facilitator is specifically a word I do not use.  If people pass or elect not to share.  In a respectful way, I reframe a bit, “here’s a question we can all answer”.  Don’t move on without engagement of the entire Circle.  Create safe space.  Always create safe space.

I recommend that schools do community building circles first.  This means holding Circles to model and teach the process.  This means taking time to get people close and connected.  Follow the PBIS triangle, and get the skills before addressing a potentially or harmful event.

Treat and encourage each and every person to be the strongest edge of the Circle, teach and know that each person is contributing to the Center of the Circle in their very unique and individual way.  When the Circle works, like spokes to the Center, and the distance between each person and the Center is equal, amazing things happen.

This model held and practices, teaches an individual responsibility.  It strengthens each students relationship with themselves by the bolstering the skills of speaking and listening.  In turn each student engages, every voice is heard.  When there is equality in participation, there is equality in engagement and community is built.

It seems like a lot of effort, or these Circle take a long time.  It can be done quickly and effective when this (equality/connection) is the context of who you are and what you represent.  Circlekeeping is a more than just a skill-set you turn off and on, Circlekeeping is how you relate to others.

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Trained teachers offer what Restorative Justice Circles “bridge”.

  I appreciate Sharon Bowman, she has a resource-filled website, great articles and books.  If you follow her on LinkedIn, great powerpoints shared.  Friend and mentor, pictured here, helped me learn how to work and train teachers.  In turn I teach all I can about Circles to her.  She recommended Sharon’s book, the 10 minute trainer.  The activity produced some great results, both in the flow of the training and the reinforcement of Restorative Justice Circles in schools.

I appreciated the side effects of using activities and exercises when training.  The audience is more engaged, the individual perspectives and understanding of the information is reflected by the activities.  The unpredictable-ness feeds my spontaneous style.  I can add a story, or go with explaining concept and it appears in response to the room conversation (vs my deviation from a planned agenda or powerpoint).

This post is a summary of what a group of teacher trainee’s developed in response to the exercise of completing the sentance: Circles are a bridge between ___(blank)___ & ___(blank)___.  Before this exercise, the training group had experienced a circle, heard an introduction on restorative justice and covered the basic facilitation skill-set.  Just a shameless plug – I am happy to provide a training for your district or agency, click here.

Circles are a bridge between . . .

Hurting & Healing

Having a Voice & Being Invisible

Hostility & Harmony

In Individual Heart & Community

A Problem & A Solution

Your Frown & Your Smile

Challenges & Solutions

Fears & Security

Chaos & Harmony

Conflict & Harmony

Conflict & Reconciliation

Whitewater Rapids & Reflection Pool

Peace & Chaos

School & Stewardship (& back, like a Circle)

I have to give this group an A+!

Consider this list an endorsement for the potential Restorative Services outcomes.  How would this list impact your school culture and climate?

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5 Steps to Use Restorative Justice Circles for Bully Behavior.

The stories of bully incidents continue to be of concern.  I have talked with frustrated parents, confused professionals and educators dedicated to prevent and put right the wrong of behavior that is negative, unwanted, repeated, and involves a power imbalance.  These items in italics are the very definition of bully behavior*.

This post is going to offer 5 clear steps to utilize in addressing bully behavior using Restorative Justice Circles.  Other related posts, here, here and here.

Step 1) Use Circles as a process to build community – before – using to repair harm.  You cannot be accountable to someone you don’t have a relationship with.  The simple practice of Circle, for the sake of Circle (or building community) – has several benefits.  Circlekeeping is a skill, it takes practice, each Circle gives learning.  Practice the process, so youth are aware of the benefits to listening each other speak.  You will get to know the youth better, so you will have information to move towards repairing harm.  You will see Circle ‘naturals’ evolve, you will spot who would be good community representatives in a Circle to repair harm.  Using Circles to build community paves the way to effective Circles to repair harm or right a wrong.  Circles promote  pro-social skills and Social Emotional Learning!

2) Use Circles with a capital C. You can place students in a circle form, you can hold a meeting without tables.  Circle keeping is an art and science, learning to read the emotional climate of the Circle and how to navigate between the stages and phases takes practice.  Preparing your lesson plan for a Circle is important, practicing the facilitation of this type of process increases positive outcomes.  To address something as crucial as bully behavior, use the power of the process that is based in values, empowers all and focuses a change of behavior by a change of heart.

3) Use Restorative Justice philosophy (link).  Especially equal concern Victims/Offenders/Community – – view the behavior as harm to relationships and people.  The process is designed to repair harm.  Restorative Justice is grounded in respect and inclusion.  The most typical intervention – ban interaction between students.  In my experience I have seen that make things worse.  There is always a story, behind the story, I believe individuals behave poorly, when they have a (perceived) justification for the behavior.  When you set up safe space and prepare people to come together – excellent outcomes prevail!  You can make Restorative Justice, School-based Restorative Justice, simply know that victim/offender/community – is student/student/community or teacher/student/staff – – Restorative Justice is so effective because of the direct path to healing for the community representatives, victims and offenders.

4) Comprehensive, whole school approach – One restorative home on a block, does not a restorative community make.  Do all you can to promote the use of a philosophy and approach from mission to discipline.  Consistent attention to promote cultures of peace and belonging is needed.  Use engagement, (a core pillar of RJ) involve parents, support staff in efforts to build community and repair harm.  I am available and happy to offer training sessions.  I will be speaking at the MN PBIS Conference Dec 8.

5) Circle again and again.  Someone recently told me a Circle, blew up, made things worse.  What a perfect time for another Circle.  Have another Circle to show accountability to the community, show a place where behavior has consequences of social and emotional proportions.  If the behavior of bullying has paid off, it is likely a person would ramp up the behavior to get those outcomes.  It may also show that the person who continues the harm, has a real skill issue, and needs more support in developing the skill.  I don’t know all the details around the Circle that blew-up, I wasn’t part of that.  However, I view conflict as opportunity, and Circle takes and makes the best of opportunities for growth and healing.  If you find yourself in a Circle, after an earlier Circle to address, ask people how they should respond or what the plan will be if the issue continues.  Then challenge yourself to help create plans that are not punitive.  It can be very difficult.  In Circle, you have all the parties in attendance and you will be using consensus as the decision-making tool, which should take care of everyone’s needs.

*This: Violence Prevention is a ppt, I presented recently to our local Rotary Club.  Featuring our local initiative to address concerns around Bully behavior.

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Different types of Restorative Justice Circles and a practitioner perspective.

Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles.  In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration.  This also creates a full circle!

A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective.  All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog.  You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.

Community Building – Boyes-Watson, authored an article titled “Community is not a place but a relationship: lessons for organizational development”.  She explains community not being defined by a place but the perception of personal connectedness.  Boyes-Watson – also authored Peacemaking Circles for Urban Youth.  Community Building Circles connect us to our community.

The practitioner perspective (PP):  create a sense of connection, by using all 4 stages and introduce a deeper discussion on values to address issues.  You may even ask for stories about a time people felt connected, or what connection might look like.

Peace Building – Where might conflict rise?  Is a situation at risk to become a larger issues?  We know the #1 cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes, so when teen drivers come in, we teach this.  Peace Building can be done when you sense an “at-risk” situation.  For schools – this would be Tier II of PBIS.

PP: Remember, no such thing as a victimless crime.  SCVRJP addresses things like underage consumption and controlled substance use – and we engage individuals from our community ad Circle members, keepers and storytellers.  When there is not a clear and present Victim, others take that voice, but also use what I have called Restorative Grace (extending kindess to the least deserving).

Repair Building – Circles around a specific crime or conflict.  Repairing relationships for victims and their relationship to the crime, the victim to the offender.  The offender to the crime, the offender to the community, the community to the offender and the victim.  A spiderweb of relationship connections are repaired in Repair Building Circles.

PP: Prepare people to come together.  Prepare people to come together.  Prepare people to come together.  Prepare yourself.  You can address and repair harm – no matter how big or small.  Lost pencils in a classroom to lost life.  The more serious the more prep work.  Ask for support for the more serious, use mentoring and take small movements to the deeper issues.

Celebration Circles – Back to where we started, the last segment of the Circle – setting apart Community from Celebration Circles – is that we are already in Community.  Women’s Circles, Serenity Circles, Healing Circles.  If we are grounding our work in the teachings of Native people, and drawing from the wisdom they provide, because their world view and practices of Circle resonate with Restorative Justice – then we cannot over look that Circles are present and part of spiritual practice.  The attention to who we are mind, body, heart and soul is complete with Celebration Circles.

PP: I don’t do enough of these.  This is the follow-up Circle, meeting 90 days later, or meeting to support change.  When I have done these, the impact is really powerful.  I once learned that a Circle, helped resolve Trichotilomania (I would link to that post, can’t find it at the moment).  Schools have lots of opporunity for this and I really encourage the re-enforcing of prosocial behavior and values related to behaving the same, when you are in and out of Circle.  Celebration Circles help us remember to do this.

By mastering the skills and techniques in each of the different categories of Circle, it will enhance you as an individual keeper, your agency or  school-based program will be stronger.  People are unique, our responses to incidents are unique, however deep down we are all the same, connected to humanity and yearning for those connections and the experience of a sense of belonging.

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Restorative Justice in Schools, further reading resources!

The newest item published for school based restorative justice: http://www.acschoolhealth.org/Docs/Restorative-Justice-Paper.pdf

I would also recommend:

Taking Restorative Justice to Schools; A Doorway to Discipline by Jeanette Holthum

Restoring Safe School Communities a whole school approach to bullying, violence and alienation by Brenda
Morrison

Restorative Circles in Schools Building Community and Enhancing Learning by Bob Costello, Joshua Wachel
& Ted Wachtel

The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools by Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz and Judy H. Mullet

JustSchools: A Whole School Approach to Restorative Justice by Belinda Hopkins

www.pbis.org – Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support

www.dpi.state.wi.us/sspw/safeschool.html – WI Department of Public Instruction Safe and Respectful Schools

I really enjoy training teachers and helping schools implement Restorative Justice.  Facilitating the process is a skill, it requires practice and time to develop the habits.  There is a shift that needs to take place within the restorative justice practitioner.  You have to recognize the limits of punishment and the value of inclusiveness.  Be willing to try it and evaluate it for yourself.  You will find, time spent will help you move from IQ, to EQ to SQ!

What are all these Q’s?  Check this out!

http://www.deepchange.com/video/homepage_video

I’m on a stay-cation, so I will be blogging briefly!  To avoid completely “failing” at not working!  Hope the resources help!

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For Schools: Reduce bully behavior, increase diversity management, by use of Circles.

I like to write about the practices and success that I have had, so you can try the practices and see if they work.  The evaluation forms and feedback from 1,000’s, literally 1,000’s of Circles have been documented by SCVRJP evaluation forms.  I am more “concrete” than “gray” when it comes to using Restorative Justice philosophy and practices, and I really, really believe in the power of Circle.

“This would be really good for bullying in Schools.”  I could help but smile at the person with the talking piece.  The person speaking had only experience a few Circles, and the experience was around “compassion”.  It was not a training or a restorative justice conference.  It was simply the observation from the heart of a former teacher.

To address bully behavior, you have to address the percieved differences that students have of each other.  There are some very REAL differences in students (race, gender, economic background, sexual orientation, etc, etc).  Do you believe that we all have humanity in common?  Can you work from a perspective that each student deserves to be treated equally, with dignity and respect?  To provide each student with the equal opportunity for personal growth and development.  Even as I write this I am thinking about how to do that with the Johnnies’ that misbehave or the Susie that has trauma going on at home, both around her and to her.  That is where school discipline meets equal opportunity and how we deal with the rule-breakers and wrong-doers.

When you work with cattle, on horseback, you need to read the animals around you.  You have to be in sync with your horse, you need to get down the leadership of the animal.  Tight reins, loose reins, knees or feet for directions.  You can give verbal directions if that fits.  You need to watch the critter you are moving.  Are they going to dodge left or right, try the corner, bolt from the pack . . .  you cut them off at the pass.  Find where they are trying to break and cut them off.

Circles “cut-off” the wrong-doing, the harm.  You build Circles into your classroom, you school community and your discipline policy.  Use Circles at all levels, (PBIS and http://circle-space.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/why_restorative_justice_works_for_bully_behavior1.pdf).  Consider the Circle process and school-based restorative justice as both the prevention, the diversion and the response.

Each type of Circle is unique and different.  Don’t cut the corners on getting staff trained to do the process well and effectively.  Mis-implementation is more harmful and can set the process back further.  You need time to practice new skills and to develop your own shifting mindset.  Reacting, punishing, punitive responses are so far ingrained in our institutions and structures, sometimes it is hard to realize what is subconciously happening because of those long set beliefs that punishment works.

Part II: Diversity management skills and Restorative Justice Circles.

Right now I need to run, a Diversity Circle is calling!

 

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Bully Intervention and the Power of Circles. Guest Post by Matthew Kuehlhorn

Today’s post is provided by my friend Matt, we met through social media at first, he’s providing some great reflection on Circles in Schools.  Check out his work athttp://middleschoolcounselor.com/  I recommend his book Bully, if you work with teens!

 

Bullying Intervention and the Power of Circles

My literal stumble into <a href=http://www.middleschoolcounselor.com>teaching about bullying</a> was prompted with a colleague of mine, who is a Middle School Counselor, when she told me she wanted a book that taught Restorative Justice to her students.  Back then my reply was “Restorative Justice, what’s that?”

The journey began on that day and has not stopped since.  That was in 2008.  Since this time I have had several conversations with industry leaders, Kris Miner being one of them, attended international and regional conferences, and read up on research and additional literature regarding restorative justice use, primarily in the schools.

What I love about the stories and the process is using the Circle.  Sitting down with people in a circle brings so much power to any situation.

I am an experiential educator and have taught for twelve years now.  I began my career in the outdoor classroom guiding classes through five day expedition trips.  I would teach about ecology, biology, and other academic focuses while also teaching outdoor skills.  We had to address relationships in our days as there was no Principal’s office to send students to when conflicts arose.

We used circles multiple times a day.  We sat around fires, we had group meetings, we made decisions, and we resolved conflict all in circle.  In the outdoors this is how people naturally congregate.

When working in a classroom I do enjoy circles still and will oftentimes find a way to get students working together within a circle.  Though desks can be awkward, we will stand, or arrange, the room before student’s arrival.

When students get into a circle I immediately notice a change.  Everyone is seeing the other students and the circle brings equalization to the room that was not there before.  The circle arrangement alone can offer prevention to behavior disruptions and relationship conflicts.  This can occur before any facilitation!

The next piece I incorporate with circles is a conversation around guidelines.  Many schools bring in Positive Behavior and Support (PBiS) programs which I really do love.  The PBiS model, as I understand it from a conversation with the Colorado State Director, is simply training students in guidelines for the school.  This is broken down into how we act in the bathroom, hallways, classroom, etc.  Then the teachers and coaches train the kids in these guidelines and good result follow.  What I find limiting to this model is that the guidelines are created by teachers, administrators and perhaps students from one year’s class (or partial class).  A more effective way to engage and empower the students you are working with now is to enroll them in the creation of their own classroom’s guidelines.

Once this is established, which may take three or more meetings to get detailed out, students and teachers have a system by which to hold themselves and others accountable.  Therefore, when Thomas steps out of line with the guidelines that he helped to created and signed off on, someone in the classroom can point this out to him and everyone knows exactly what the next steps are.  Thomas is not removed from the classroom and people learn to make mistakes, be accountable and take corrective actions.

This is all powerful prevention.

Bullying Intervention is built on top of this system.  When circles are used regularly, students and teachers learn about people’s needs.  When a person is bullying another there is an underlying need which is a driving force for the action.  It can certainly be a learned skill and under that skill is a need to prove oneself or to be accepted by another person.  The needs of people must be uncovered before bullying can be addressed and intervention successful.

Building a framework with circles is the powerful solution to being proactive and reactive when addressing bullying.  Regular use of circles can build community in the classroom that promotes people’s success, supported by every community member.

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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.

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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.

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