A process to make the shift from punishing to making things right.
The Restorative Classrooms and Schools Process consists of weekly classroom circles combining group activities that teach core skills and concepts with immediate application of what is being learned to the real-world issues affecting participating students, teachers, parent volunteers, and the classroom community.
Our facilitators developed this process, working with many schools over a period of several years. An alternative to training your teachers and staff to facilitate is to have us come to your site. We'll come once a week for 10 weeks, meeting with up to four classes (scheduled the same day) each time.
Our aim is to include classroom teachers so they are equipped with the skills needed to continue the process after our work is completed.
What teachers say....
“When students were asked to solve problems in past, they would respond “I dunno,” and I would feel responsible to come up with a solution. I recognized that these solutions were not generally effective. Now I facilitate student’s thinking process, and help them come up with solutions.”
“Students are much more likely to take ownership for issues affecting them and the classroom.”
“My role and how I problem-solve has changed; I’m less likely to get angry as quickly. The project allowed me to come from a more loving and caring place.”
“I never cry in class. But there were some moments when I found the tears coming down.”
“I was surprised by what my students really want. I didn’t expect that they want to have a chance to help fix things, they want to be part of it. It changed my perception of the kids.”
“Things were broken and I didn’t know how to fix it. My own frustration was in the way. I noticed how cruel the kids were; it confounded me. Then in this project, to hear them voice their own pain… I was so touched; I had never cried in class before. I became more mindful that I don’t know what they walk with. I started allowing myself to see.”
Example 10-Week Process
Week 1: Being in Circle. Introduction to how to work together in circles, including Four Core Skills and respect for the talking piece.
Week 2: Building Connections. We discuss agreements, such as privacy, boundaries, and confidentiality, that can help make the circle a safe place to share. Students and adults participate in a "Wheelhouse Circle," a fun get-to-know-each-other-better activity that helps build trust.
Week 3: A Restorative Scenario. The class works with a fictional senario based on a type of incident that is immediately familiar to everyone in the classroom community. This activity helps create a shift in thinking from "how is bad and how to punish them" to "understanding who is affected, and how."
Week 4: Something Special. Students bring something from home to share with the class. A special format is used to build the center of the circle, and deepen each student's appreciation for their classmates.
Week 5: Making it Right. Students work with another scenario; in this week they begin to make the shift from thinking in terms of punishment to thinking in terms of "making things right." They distinguish between behaviors that tend to create unhappiness and disharmony (unskillful behaviors) and those that tend to create happiness and harmony (skillful behaviors).
Week 6: Five Restorative Questions. Students learn how to speak to five questions that deepen connection, understanding, and empathy. We work with actual issues that affect the classroom.
Week 7: Restorative Discussion. Students continue working with the five questions as we go deeper into issues that affect the classroom and the school community.
Week 8-9: Restorative Dialogue. Members of the classroom community have the opportunity to have safe and successful one-on-one discussions with other members. These may focus on "things that are bothering me" or "things that I am grateful for."
Week 10: Transition celebration. A simple celebration and a discussion of how the classroom community may wish to continue circles and restorative dialogue without the presence of the guides.