School-based Restorative Practices

"I am happy to be with you today."

January 31, 2022

Restorative Justice (RJ), at its most basic level, is about connection rooted in respect.  Often times at our trainings, we seek to begin with this idea by facilitating an activity called, “I See You.” We invite participants to move around the room, to greet each other, and to say, “I See You.”  The idea is to build connection and community in the first two minutes of the workshop. Our hope is that everyone can "be seen," and therefore, feel a sense of connection to the larger group.


In a recent RJ training at a school in Gwinnett, we started our training with this activity.  Later in the training, a participant delivered to me about ten sticky notes with the following message,


“Think of a child or a family who are refugees from an authoritarian government.  How does the phrase ‘I see you’ make them feel? Maybe that someone is watching and could report you. Or think of a child who thinks that if they attract attention from a grownup or someone else, that it may not end well.  ‘I see you’ sometimes equals ‘You are in trouble.’  How about ‘I am happy to be with you today’?  To acknowledge each other’s presence and to be with - not watch, not see.  Let’s be with.  Let’s share this day.”


Like the Circle, we hope that our Restorative Justice trainings will be strong enough to contain any emotion, and humble enough to receive any feedback.  I am grateful for this feedback and look forward to telling this story as we adapt this icebreaker activity to be called, “I am happy to be with you today.”


other blogs and recommended reading

Starting Small Might Aid Gwinett's School Discipline Shift

In this guest column, Smagorinsky dives into the discipline debate roiling Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

GHC to offer courses for RED Restorative Justice Program

Georgia Highlands College has partnered with Rehabilitation Enables Dreams to offer college access to students in the RED Restorative Justice Program.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.”― Thich Nhat Hanh

Each time we choose to draw near, rather than to send away, we are actively building a new way to be in community together. As we model this way of being in schools, we are shining a light and showing a way for what can be possible in the community as a whole.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Liberatory Consciousness

We cannot do restorative justice work well if we are not also fighting for racial equity in the spaces that we work. Looking through the lens of equity, we find the concept of liberation. This brings up the question, how do we grow our liberatory consciousness?

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Pine Bluff School Introduces 'Restorative Room' to Help Calm Students, De-Escalate Fights

A school in Pine Bluff introduced the 'restorative room' as a way to help encourage kids to process their emotions and get through tough experiences.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Weaver School Embraces ‘Peacemaker Event’ on Campus

In collaboration with the Restorative Justice League of Merced, the “Weaver Peacemaker Event” is an all day event that focuses on educating students to “promote kindness and build a culture of peace on campus.”

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

An Eighth Grade Class Just Exonerated The Last Witch Of The Salem Witch Trials

Massachusetts teacher Carrie LaPierre led her students through a restorative justice project over 300 years after the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Remembering How to Be Friends: After COVID, One School Uses Talking Circles to Help Kids Reconnect

That predictable, structured place to safely share is critical, especially for students who want to take on society’s bigger challenges, Swearingen said. “It puts us in a spot where we can be vulnerable with each other, and because we can be vulnerable together we can be productive.”

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

NJEA Officers, Community Tour Restorative Justice Montclair

“As a teacher in Wayne and a resident and mayor here in Montclair, I could not be prouder of the leadership that the Montclair Education Association, the Montclair Board of Education, and our students, teachers, educational support professionals, and administrators have taken in showing what restorative justice looks like in action,” [President] Spiller said.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

New Study: Black, Special Ed Students Punished at Greater Rate Through Pandemic

Despite a dramatic decline in suspensions as students moved to remote learning during the pandemic, Black children and those in special education were disciplined far more often than white students and those in general education, according to a recent New York University study.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

LTE: Restorative Justice in Schools

"We need programs and interventions that teach and model skills that will change behavior. Restorative practices are what can transform and guide the prosocial behaviors we want for our children and our communities."

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

NYC's Push for Restorative Justice Was Put to the Test This School Year

Schools like Harvest Collegiate High School have embraced restorative justice and devoted resources to those programs.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

The Stories We Create

When we’re working as a team, we can start in one direction, but we may end up in a completely different direction by the end of the year.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Restorative Practices for the Seven Generations to Come

“History is asking us to become healers. We are so good at causing harm, at every level. We are experts at that. So I want to thank you for answering history’s call so that we will have a future for the seven generations to come.” - Dr. Fania Davis

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

At This Oakland High School, Restorative Justice Goes Far Beyond Discipline

Fremont High students are even helping young students engage in restorative justice practices.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Valley State First HBCU to Offer Prison College Program in Mississippi

Incarcerated people at two prisons in the Delta will be able to start earning four-year degrees from Mississippi Valley State University this fall for the first time in more than two decades.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Restorative Arlington Partners with Arlington Public Schools to Support Students and Strengthen Restorative Justice in Education

Restorative Arlington has partnered with Arlington Public Schools (APS) to support Restorative Justice in Education. Restorative Arlington has allocated over $140,000 to provide direct services to APS, including services for students who have experienced harm as well as restorative justice training for staff and additional resources.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Praise for One-of-a-Kind Philly Diversion Program Rooted in 2020 Civil Unrest

Criminal justice reform advocates are applauding a diversion program created to resolve the hundreds of felony cases that came out of the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Suffolk District Attorney to Pilot Restorative Justice Program

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden is piloting a restorative justice program in Chelsea District Court and the Charlestown and Roxbury divisions of Municipal Court.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Cash From Criminal Wrong-Doing Will Now Help Coquitlam Kids

Two unique programs that support Tri-City students are getting nearly $60,000 combined, thanks to proceeds of criminal activity.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Restorative Justice Resolves Alleged Assault at Indiana Lake

Restorative justice was successfully used for one of the first times in Indiana to remediate a legal confrontation.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Social Change and Self Care

Letting Go of Myths, Embracing Truths

Shawn Ginwright writes in Yes! Magazine about Four Pivots to Reimagining Justice and Reimagining Ourselves.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

RJ and Gender-based Violence

Restorative Approaches for Gender-based Violence

This blog explores restorative approaches to gender-based violence and the relationship between the restorative justice and transformative justice movements.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Danny's Journey with Restorative Justice

Danny Malec's Recent Interview on "This Restorative Justice Life" with David Ryan Castro-Harris

This Restorative Justice Life is a podcast series that highlights conversations and storytelling with Restorative Justice Practitioners, Circle Keepers, and others about how they bring Restorative Justice philosophy, practices, and values into their personal and professional lives. Hosted by Amplify RJ founder David Ryan Barcega Castro-Harris. Produced by Elyse Martin-Smith.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

School-based Restorative Practices Implementation

COVID is making it harder for schools to practice restorative practices

This article, originally published in Fortune.com, explores a range of added challenges related to restorative practices implementation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →

Opinion

Where Is the Forgiveness and Grace in Cancel Culture?

A link to an editorial written on 12/28/21 in the New York Times from Michael Eric Dyson, reflecting on Bishop Tutu's approach to apartheid and the limited value of punishment or banishment.

Read full article (LINK OPENS IN A NEW TAB) →