Last week, 50 educators nationwide joined the Beyond Differences Learning Community with a 3-part series on Restorative Practices led by Don Carney, executive director of Youth Transforming Justice. Participants came away with an introduction to Restorative Justice practices and hands-on ideas for how to begin implementing these strategies in their education spaces.
During their first day together, Carney reviewed the goals and some of the outcomes of Restorative Practices. He emphasized key actions to foster resilience in the school community. They included providing caring relationships, communicating high-expectation messages, and giving opportunities for meaningful participation and contribution.
Carney then dove into the practice of Community Circles. He shared that this practice is often used with younger children, but is often phased out for older students. Community Circles are valuable for older students because they help students feel seen, heard and understood. Additionally, the process shares all the elements of the guiding principles to a trauma-informed approach.
In the final meeting, educators discussed Restorative Problem Solving and learned some of the most important questions to ask students. Carney emphasized that the goal of a restorative circle is “mutual comprehension,” which guides the self-responsibility of the person who needs to repair the impact their harmful action created. Mutual comprehension is critical in helping to determine the action plan needed that will repair whatever damage has been done.
In this clip, Carney talks about how hierarchical relationships (student-teacher) create barriers for students to engage in community building and restorative problem-solving circles. He recommends that educators say and own that “when we are in this space, we are equals.”
To see the rest of this clip and get access to the full series and
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And, here is some of the feedback from a few of our session participants:
I LOVE the humanistic approach that this training provided because that is how students connect.~ Carlos
This is one of the clearest RJ presentations. Your examples from real life bring it to life. With Gratitude! ~ Dr. Laura
The videos have been great! The myths being de-mythed; also, no admin/hierarchy leading Circles. ~ Michelle
️I am looking forward to trying this process out more formally with my 4th graders this coming year- thank you! ~ Julie
The misson of Beyond Differences® is to inspire students nationwide to end social isolation and create cultures of belonging for everyone. We envision a world where all youth are accepted, valued, and included no matter their differences. Beyond Differences® offers FREE SEL curriculum, lesson plans, and supplies’ to middle school educators all across the nation. Bring our programs to your school today!