- A kindergartner in Tennessee who is Latino was told by classmates that he would be deported and trapped behind a wall. Now he asks his teacher every day, “Is the wall here yet?”
This piece originally appeared in Education Week.
A few weeks ago the New York Times ran a story I found so disturbing that I had to use some of the cool-down strategies from my organization's "social and emotional learning" curricula before I could think clearly about it. (My organization, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, works with public schools to foster SEL.)
Suspensions in NYC public schools dropped 17% in the 2014-15 school year, according to the latest Department of Education data. This continues the trend of the past four years, which has seen NYC suspensions drop 36% overall.
“Everyone is needed for what they bring” is one of the seven core assumptions of restorative circles. We all have stories, perspectives and ideas to enrich each other’s lives. In circles, we are all teachers and we are all learners.
As the talking piece goes around, everyone is invited to speak. The welcoming, equitable process in circles tends to empower students to bring their whole selves to the circle – including their wisdom when it comes to solving problems and “discipline.”
A message from the Executive Director, 2015 Annual Report.
Back in 2002, punishment was the big trend in education. But it went by other names, like “zero tolerance” and “No Child Left Behind.” NCLB ushered in a brutal new testing regime that was supposed to “hold schools accountable” for student academic success and close the “achievement gap” – yet failed to create the conditions that would make that possible. “Zero tolerance” was supposed to be the answer to school discipline. It led to soaring suspensions and a growing police presence in the schools.
Note: This is the final post in a 3-part series on Trusting the Process. The series describes a four-day training session on restorative circles with a group of around 20 school staff members, some of whom had reservations about the training and the circle process. We hope it will be useful for circle keepers, especially those who are encountering resistance from circle participants. See Part 1 and Part 2.
Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part blogpost. The series describes a 4-day training session on restorative circles with a group of around 20 staff members from a school, some of whom had reservations about the training and the circle process. See Part 1 here.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part blogpost.
The circle process is powerful, transformative at times, but it can also be challenging and time-consuming. For teachers, sharing of themselves in a circle with students can be uncomfortable. Many also worry that the circle process will open up upsetting personal issues students are facing—issues that they as teachers aren't prepared to handle. They aren’t trained therapists, after all (nor am I).
Yet in my experience, adults who are courageous enough to try the process despite these concerns often discover for themselves why circles are worth the discomfort and time. I’ve facilitated circles for almost a decade, and I’ve learned to trust the circle and the people participating in it to address the worries and concerns that we bring to the process.