First Aid for Classroom ReLATIONSHIPS By Mark St John
Why Restorative justice? • Restorative Dialogue • Repairing Relationships • Rebuilding Relationships • Community Building • The classroom environment will benefit from repaired relationships and mutual respect as class assignments may call for students to work with others that they may not normally interact with outside of the classroom. In order to attain this objective it will be important to keep in mind four elements: Restorative Dialogue, Repairing Relationships, Rebuilding Relationships, and Community Building. • “They have the potential to influence school climate and strengthen positive social connections between students and staff” (ICJIA, 2009).
Restorative Dialogue • Collaborative Problem-Solving • Students develop a sense of ownership when their thoughts are valued • Educator to Student conversations • Are most effective when separating the action from the individual • Peer to Peer conversations • Must remain respectful and understanding of their partner’s opinions. • Can be operated in a group, but may be more effective in a more private individual conversation.
Repairing Relationships • Restorative Circles • Empathy and an open-mind are pre-requisites for these class discussions to be effective. • Re-entry Circles • In repairing relationships there is a gradual process of re-integration as trust must be re-established. • Peer Mediation • Just as small-group collaborations can be more effective for student learning, so too the same can be said in problem-solving. • The foundation of relationships is establishing trust between two parties, without trust making progress will be difficult.
Rebuilding Relationships • Outside Referrals • In schools, student actions are influenced by the environments they are exposed to both at and away from school. As educators we have a limited scope of practice and that is where the need for specialized professionals comes into play. • On the news have been stories of students at all levels who have experienced or been exposed to traumatic events making them unable to fully focus on their education. Reports of school-shootings or the untimely death of a loved one can shake-up the foundation of an individual’s livelihood. • Community Conferencing • Helps to provide understanding and closure to victims and families of those who have been harmed. It is a part of the healing process for all parties although there won’t be an immediate resolution. • To develop a relationship, both parties must identify and share common interests or experience similar struggles. Facing challenges together bolsters trust and understanding, bonds that sustain long-time connections.
Community Building • Seating Arrangements to be changed Monthly • Student Introductions • Cultural/Family Background Project • Lead Extra-Curricular Student Activities • Support from Local Businesses • Parent-Teacher Association • Schools are usually good representations of a community and its diversity so students have an opportunity to learn how to work with one another and look beyond their differences.
Steps to follow in Restorative justice • Make Sure the Area is Safe by Reducing Conflict. • Rather than helping to escalate a situation of conflict, students can best help their friends by pulling them away and helping them calm down. • Stop the Bleeding by Changing the Mindset. • There has been a push to eliminate unnecessary suspensions, that pull students away from the learning opportunities in the classroom. School districts need to look into employing additional mental health professionals as the data that has been gathered over the years show that minorities are adversely impacted. • Assess the Situation by Being a Good Listener. • Valuing the voice of students by listening to their viewpoints and holding discussions to find a resolution.
Make Sure the area is safe • While at school, students are learning to interact with peers who may come from different backgrounds who hold opposing beliefs and may need support to escape from conflict: • Before class, • During Recess • At Lunch in the Cafeteria • Outside during Lunch Recess • Afterschool • Reduce conflict by separating individuals with differing opinions
STOP the BLEEDING • “Restorative discipline combines strict control and strong support of youth, and approaches wrongdoing in a way that is not punitive, neglectful, or permissive” (ICJIA, 2009). • Empathy and understanding will be the best way discover why students are acting out rather than assuming that they are inherently deviant. • “A zero-tolerance policv doesn't get at root causes, which doesn't try to repair the damage to relationships, and fails to prevent recurrence” (Davis, 2014). • Change the Mindset
STOP the BLEEDING • Before class: Start each day with some Humor - Joke of the Day or Sharing Experience from Weekend • During Recess: Check out and observe your students at play • At Lunch in the Cafeteria: Once a week sit in with the students • Outside during Lunch Recess : Check out student interactions • Afterschool: Extra-Curricular Activities - Lead or help as an Assistant • Lighten the Mood at school:
Assess the Situation • “Rather than a teacher prescribing rules of conduct, students are given the opportunity to explore and determine how to create a positive community” (ICJIA, 2009).: • Traditional educational systems don’t account for the voice of the student in decision-making, but as we modify learning in our classrooms, educators can spark change. • Under the scope of continuing with a growth mindset we can validate our students’ individuality and bolster their self-esteem by listening to what they have to contribute to the classroom. • Be a Good Listener • Think of how can we improve student learning experiences. • Brainstorm ideas with students and collaborate on resolutions.
References • 5 Ways to Improve Student Collaboration http://blog.remind.com/5-ways-to-improve-student-collaboration/ • About Restorative Justice. (2016). Joe Brummer Consulting. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.joebrummer.com • Afterschool activities: Active, Creative, Educational. Strothoff International School. https://www.strothoff-international-school.com/campus-life/after-school-activities/ • Anderson, M. D. (2015). Will school-discipline reform actually change anything? Retrieved from the Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/09/will-school-discipline-reform-actually-change-anything/405157/ • Communication Boosters: Relationship Improvement Exercises. Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-michele/communication-skills_b_4136926.html • Community Involvement in Education. Slideplayer.com http://slideplayer.com/slide/3442825/ • Davis, F. E. (2014). 8 Tips for schools interested in restorative justice. Retrieved from Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/restorative-justice-tips-for-schools-fania-davis
References • Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA, 2009). ICJIA Implementing restorative justice: A guide for schools.https://www.sccgov.org/sites/pdo/ppw/SESAP/Documents/SCHOOL%20RJP%20GUIDEBOOOK.pdf • Listening with the Whole Body - Joylight (n.d.). JoyLengwordpress.com https://joyleng.wordpress.com/tag/listening/ • Look - Funko Pop Collection (n.d.). When In Manila https://www.wheninmanila.com/look-this-guy-shares-immense-funko-pop-collection/ • Restorative Justice: A path to healing (n.d.). Sonoma County Gazette. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/cms/pages/sonoma-county-news-article-2891.html • River City Malone. (n.d.). River City Malone. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from http://rivercitymalone.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Restorative-Justice-2.jpg • Student Voice [Digital image]. (n.d.). Slideshare.net http://www.slideshare.net/nickrate/student-voice-4698558