News from Ruth van Leerdam
Restorative Practices Educator
What a privilege and honor it has been to be invited to work with schools and teachers bringing Restorative Practices to their communities. Over the 2016-17 school year, we have worked with over 20 schools introducing them to the concepts of Restorative Practices; teaching Restorative Chats and Circles and working with teachers and students in their classrooms demonstrating ways to build and repair relationships.
Restorative Practices is Making a Difference
In one school, I was asked to come and help students work through some issues that were happening during lunch times in the cafeteria. We decided to run a "no-blame" conference to find out what has been happening, how it’s been affecting students, what needs to be fixed, and how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. We sat in a circle, and students shared what had happened during lunch times - students were stealing other students lunches, ruining food by pouring milk over meals, throwing food around the cafeteria and more.
During the “no-blame” conference, students shared how these things were affecting them. One student explained how lunch was her only guaranteed meal of the day, due to the lack of food at home; and if it was ruined or taken, then she was worried she wouldn’t get enough food that day. Another student shared how her mom had just told her she was pregnant again, and she was concerned about having enough food to go around. We heard from someone else that their grandmother worked in the cafeteria and she would come home at night sad and angry at the food that was being wasted and the extra time needed to clean up the mess from food being thrown. Another student shared how he hadn’t realized that some people were hungry and didn’t have much food at home; he thought he was just having fun during the lunch time throwing food. As students shared the harmful experiences of those actions in the cafeteria, the weightiness of their impact could be felt in the room.
Then students became brave and began to apologize for the parts they played during lunch. They apologized to individuals and shared how they didn’t realize how their ‘fun’ was negatively impacting others in the class. You could feel the weight beginning to lift. Students then shared about how they could fix things. They had ideas such as not throwing food; asking someone if they wanted to share their meal with them; and putting trash in the waste basket rather than on the floor.
By the end of the circle time, smiles returned to faces, there was a feeling of lightness in the room, and harms had been addressed. Responsibility for the hurtful actions was accepted and the healing process had begun. Restorative Practices is certainly making a difference!
If you would like to find out more about Restorative Practices in Schools feel free to call our office to speak with Ruth. Or perhaps you may be interested in attending our next training in April. Click on the link below to read training details or to register.
News from Jackie Durant
HOPE City Director
Jackie is currently teaching a 7-week Facilitating Conflict Resolution class. During this class participants will learn and practice restorative justice principles to help resolve conflict. Topics include:
Protecting connection during times of conflict
Exploring love vs fear
Punitive vs Restorative discipline
Skills to help deescalate anxiety and fear
What are community circles
Creating a safe environment