- Showing 2 posts filed under: Teacher [–] published between Jan 01, 2010 and Jan 31, 2010 [Show all]
Restorative justice workshop report
From the blog post by Sue Huff, trustee for Edmonton Public Schools.
For the past three days, I've attended a Restorative Justice Facilitator Workshop put on by the Alberta Conflict Tranformation Society. I've had the opportunity to hear about this practice from a few sources, including Dr. Martin Brokenleg and some EPSB staff who believe that it is a more effective teaching tool than traditional punitive measures like suspensions or expulsions. This workshop was a chance to delve a little more deeply into the process.
...In a nutshell, this approach demands that the one who has caused the harm (or "offender" if it is a legal case) take responsibility for their actions, admit what they have done and come face-to-face with everyone who has been harmed (or "victims".) The facilitated conversation that takes place is raw, emotional and honest. Everyone talks about how they have been affected by the incident. Victims have the opporunity to have burning questions answered. In the end, the circle decides what steps need to be taken to move towards repairing the harm and rebuilding relationships/lives/community/hope. In most cases, conflict is transformed into cooperation. Hatred is transformed into understanding, empathy or forgiveness. Of course, it doesn't work 100% of the time, but in most circumstances, people on both sides leave feeling satisfied with the outcomes. (Contrast that satisfaction with how most people feel after a court case.)
My Classroom's Journey with Restorative Practices
From the 7 January 2010 Restorative Practices E-Forum by Deanna L. Webb:
When I graduated from college with a degree in special education, I was prepared to offer students specially designed instruction, program modifications and a variety of teaching techniques to match their individual learning styles, as well as tools and techniques they could use to be successful with academics. What I was not prepared for, however, was the need to fill in the blanks in their lives that were not a part of the typical academic school environment. This became especially evident when I began teaching in the emotional support setting. My students all lacked a sense of community, and consequently they also lacked a sense of accountability. During my first few years as a teacher in this setting, I struggled to connect with students and to keep them engaged in the school environment. Some students did very well, but I was unable to reach others. The tools I acquired in IIRP classes and then used in my classroom allowed me to build community and teach accountability and respect to a very challenging population of students.
The first change I made to begin building community was to rearrange my classroom management system to reflect the new focus of our classroom. I created “Community, Inc.,” a classroom management system that was “publicly owned; created communities; invested in relationships and made a profit from the positive growth and relationships it created.” In this new system every student had a job, along with responsibilities to the overall “company.” My classroom had “corporate meetings” at least twice a day, and sometimes more frequently if we needed to address an issue in the classroom. “Community, Inc.” pushed the typical boundaries of classroom rules to a system where the students decided the norms of behavior in the classroom, along with how each student would be held accountable, not just to the teacher and administration, but also to the community as a whole.