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.”

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