Building Circles & Community Around Picture Books! A Restorative Practices Book Review

Last spring, I attended a virtual workshop led by Carmen Zeisler on Building Circles and Community Around Picture Books. I was so inspired, I began creating circles scripts for kindergarten through third graders on social justice books and developed a new workshop on the topic for the school district I work with in Modesto, CA.

Carmen’s new book, Building Circles and Community Around Picture Books! Let’s Learn From Others: A Focus on Biographies, features 25 scripts. She begins her book with a powerful quote by Brene Brown.

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

Zeisler understands the power of transforming conflict by using community building circles proactively along with restorative practices approaches. She begins the book with a community circle overview, five universal circle guidelines, and the flow for a community circle. The flow for every circle is welcome/opening activity, round 1, round 2 and round 3, and closing the circle.

The 25 scripts focus on biographies. Several that I’m unfamiliar with and sound interesting are:

  • Balloons Over Broadway – The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade,
  • Daza! Amalia Hernandez, founder of Ballet Folkorico de Mexico, and
  • Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire.

A feature I like are the links to the publisher’s page that provide additional resources, like a picture of an event, listen to ocean waves, a song, or dancers from Mexico. These will enhance comprehension for the children. I also like the opening activities that help introduce the topic.

I was disappointed that the author used the same round 1 check-in question for every community circle. The check-in question is, “Are you mad, sad, glad or afraid today and what is that mostly about?” I prefer that the check-on question is directly connected to the topic. The publisher does provide a link to an eight-minute video that focuses on the check-in question. [essdk.me/ckeckins]

I can’t wait to do my first workshop, Building Circles and Community Around Picture Books for kindergarten to third grade teachers using the social justice books scripts I created and featuring Carmen’s excellent book that is powerful and easy to use.

About the Author

Carmen Zeisler is the Learning Center Director at ESSDACK, an educational service agency. Building relationships with teachers and students is her passion. Carmen specializes in restorative practices in education, creating community circles, a restorative circles facilitator as well as a children’s book expert.

About the Book

Building Circles & Community Around Picture Books! Let’s Learn From Others. A Focus on Biographies by Carmen Zeisler, ESSDACK Resilience, no date. The book is available as a download or paperback for $8.00 at https://market.essdack.org/products/building-circles-and-community-around-picture-books-25-building-community-scripts Also available, Building Circles and Community Around Picture Books- Back to School Edition (Digital Download Only), $6.99.

Site Team Member’s Responsibilities & Training for Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools

In a previous blog post, The Role of the Site Team Lead & Consultant in Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools, I suggested that schools wanting to implement restorative practices use a site leadership team approach under the direction of a vice-principal or assistant principle typically designated by the school principal. In turn, the site team lead is responsible for selecting seven to nine classified and certificated staff members for their site team.

I found it helpful for potential site team members to know what the expectations are prior to deciding to join the team. This way they can make an informed decision and are more likely to stay engaged. Here’s a list to consider using for the site team member’s responsibilities.

Site Team Member’s Overall Responsibilities1

  • Demonstrate willingness to learn about restorative practices (RP) with a teachable attitude
  • Model RP in your daily responsibilities
  • Promote RP at your school, the District, and community
  • Provide leadership within your school site (such as: role model, lead small groups on specific implementation tasks, share your stories with staff, parents & community, present RP to others, train staff, etc.)
  • Demonstrate willingness to take risks, try new skills, learn from mistakes, and transparently by sharing your journey with others, including staff, parents & community members
  • Meet monthly with the site team lead & site team members; communicate regularly

Site Team Member’s Annual Responsibilities

Depending on what trainers the site team chooses will determine specific responsibilities for site team members. Here’s ‘a list of potential requirements for site team members during the first year:

  • Specify trainings site t4eam members will be required to attend
  • Meet monthly with site team lead & site team members to facilitate implementation
  • Follow any implementation plans created during training
  • If the training includes a site team’s 15-minute presentation featuring the past year’s highlights, participate in the planning and presentation
  • Optional: “job shadow” someone in similar role at another school site implementing restorative practices

What other responsibilities do you foresee for a site team member?

 

Source: 1. Information adapted from Positive Behavior for Learning: Book One Introduction, New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2014, pp. 13; 15. www.education.govt.nz

Image: team [freesvg.org]

Encircled: Bringing Family Virtue Circles Home – A Restorative Practices Book Review

Before I learned about this book, I met one of the authors, Genevieve Price, through a referral from Restoration Matters. I was looking to talk with someone who is actually doing restorative practices with preschoolers. I was so inspired listening to her stories about how she adapts the concepts of restorative practices and how she does circles with preschoolers. I was delighted when she shared about her book, Encircled: Bringing Family Virtue Circles Home, co-authored with Ann Polan.

Virtues-Based

This book is connected to the virtues Lynne Lang developed called Values-Based Restorative Discipline (VBRDTM) to promote a positive school climate and parish communities while expressing Catholic values and beliefs. I love that this book is a tool to incorporate virtue education and discussion amongst families and is based on Colossians 3:12-15. Paul calls us to “clothe ourselves” in heartfelt compassion, forbearance, forgiveness, gentleness, humility, kindness, love, patience, thankfulness, and unity (p. 5). If you’re parenting and your belief system resonates with these virtues, this book is for you.

Restorative Circles

Many public and private schools are using restorative circles to build relationships within the classroom and school. This book helps bring families closer to one another and to God by using circles at home.

To give you an overview of circles, every circle includes these components: an opening prayer, a one-word check-on, the circle topic, discussion or an activity, a one-word check-out, and a closing prayer. I was disappointed that the opening and closing prayer is the same for every circle. You may want to involve your children in saying their own prayers. Typically, a circle can take 15 to 30 minutes.

How to Do Circles

After some introductory pages, the authors explain how to get started with circle guidelines, information about virtues, the Colossians virtues, and a one-page materials list for the circles. Most families will find that these materials are easily accessed within the home.

Pages 14 to 120 contain the meat of the book – the actual circle step-by-step that families can do together. Since the format is the same for all circles, parents and caregivers and their children and teens will quickly learn circle basics.

The Talking Piece

Part of every circle is to use a talking piece. This is a common item that can be passed from person to person. The purpose of the talking piece is to allow only the person holding the talking piece to speak. I can tell you that my experiences with educators using a talking piece is challenging. It may be even more challenging for children, but I’ve seen students quickly adapt to talking one person at a time.

The reason I brought up the talking piece is because creating a family talking piece out of popsicle sticks is one of my favorite circles activities. Another favorite is creating virtue rocks for each of the Colossian’s virtues. This book can be done in the order it is written or families can skip around and do the circles that best fit what the family is currently experiencing.

As parents, you can now experience the positive impact that students experience at school with your children and teens at home. I’d love to hear your stories about using virtue circles in your school or home.

About the Authors

Ann Polan, MA, MCC, is a certified school counselor in St. Louis, Missouri. For over 10 years she’s been working with elementary and middle school students in Catholic education.

Genevieve Price, BS, ECE, currently teaches Pre-K. She has six years of experience in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She has experience facilitating circles and restorative practices with Pre-K to 8th grade.

About the Book

Encircled: Bringing Family Virtue Circles Home, by Ann Polan and Genevieve Price, Imagine That Enterprises, LC, 2019, 128 pages. This book is available from https://www.restorationmatters.org/product-page/encircled-bringing-parent-virtue-circles-home Email at info@restorationmatters.com

Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline: Comprehensive Guide – A Restorative Practices Book Review

Before I learned about this book, I met the author, Lynne M. Lang, founder and Executive Director at Restoration Matters. She contacted me through LinkedIn. I’m always happy to connect with a restorative practices colleague. I do my restorative practices training for a large school district through Central Valley Youth for Christ while she does many trainings for Catholic schools. With common interests and values, we met on zoom.

The internationally recognized initiative Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline (VBRDTM) began in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis with a focus on cultivating virtues as a strategy for ending bullying behaviors. Those with a faith-based background, will appreciate their six key virtues: wisdom, justice, temperance (self-control), courage, humanity, and transcendence. For those unfamiliar with transcendence, as I was, “Transcendence is linked to the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. It takes into account beauty, creativity, humor (joy), and the belief in something greater than us at work in the world.” (p. 39)

The Foundation of Virtues

Each of the 14 chapters begins with a scripture quote. Lang devotes an entire chapter on laying a spiritual foundation of virtue and another chapter on becoming a student of virtue. The VBRDTM Guiding Principles listed on their website are:

  • “We will dedicate ourselves to living virtue.
  • We will support others in living virtue.
  • We will commit to constructive thoughts, words, and deeds.
  • When faced with challenges or conflict, we will find solutions that cultivate virtue for ourselves and for one another.”

This call to virtue principles reminds me of working with educators. The past eight years I’ve done restorative practices trainings. I found that participants are eager to learn how they can use restorative practices with students. When I mention that restoring relationships is not just about restoring relationships student to student, but also about restoring relationships between a student and a staff or between a staff and another staff, some feathers get ruffled. Educators need to model restorative practices by treating everyone with respect and dignity and apologizing to students and/or staff for something they’ve done or said.

Restorative Practices Foundations

If you’re unfamiliar with restorative practices, you’ll be interested in the fifth chapter that provides the history of restorative practices. Long before schools began implementing restorative practices, indigenous tribes used restorative practices informally that spans many cultures and time periods.

Most books compare punitive or traditional discipline to restorative discipline. In chapter six, Lang compares traditional discipline to virtue-based restorative discipline. An interesting chart compares traditional discipline, restorative discipline, and VBRD.TM Another table features the key goals of restorative discipline and how these principles are adapted with VBRD.TM

Chapter seven offers a brief overview of a framework for a vision, while another short chapter provides information on steps to implementation. This is useful for those desiring to implement restorative practices within the school setting.

Putting It All Together

The next three chapters feature beginning with the adults at school, followed by bringing parents onboard, and finally, teaching our children. The author concludes with three short chapters on putting it all together, measuring success, and final thoughts. The book ends with eight appendices that are very helpful.

What I like most about Lang’s book, is the insight she has on connecting our Christian beliefs and scripture to our practices. If you’re looking for a book that bridges your personal beliefs to the implementation of restorative practices in schools, this book is for you.

About the Author

Ms. Lang is founder of a nonprofit, Restoration Matters, and facilitates restorative practices professional development, restorative staff retreats, restorative discipline for parents, virtue-based restorative discipline, and conflict restoration and transformation, amongst other areas. Additionally, she is a trainer for the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and trains on Introduction to Restorative Practice & Facilitating Circles. She also provides restorative leadership training and conflict transformation in parishes and community organizations.

About the Book

Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline: Comprehensive Guide – A Catholic Response to Bullying by Lynne M. Lang, Our Sunday Visitor, 2013. Paperback, 190 pages. This book is available from https://www.restorationmatters.org/product-page/virtue-based-restorative-discipline Email at info@restorationmatters.com

 

The Role of the Site Team Lead & Consultant in Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools

Implementation Team

There are many ways to implement restorative practices at schools. The cost of training every person in a district can be prohibitive. When I created the restorative practices in schools program for a large school district in Modesto, CA, I developed a site team system that includes administrators, certificated staff, classified staff. It is unusual to include classified staff in most district-wide initiatives. But if restorative practices are to be implemented school wide, the classified staff must be included because they have their own unique sphere of influence. The training model involves training seven to nine team members from each school site for at least three years.

Administrator Leadership

The site teams are under the leadership of an administrator who works alongside the trainers and consultants and the site team members. At the elementary level, this person is typically the vice principal. At the secondary level, the site lead is usually an associate principal. The training and consultant’s assistance and input equips site teams towards successful implementation. Ultimately, the site team is responsible for implementation. Research says that Restorative Practices (RP) in schools takes three to five years for full implementation, but my experience over nine years is that it takes much longer.

Consultant’s Role

The heart of what consultants do happens with the site leads by building a strong connection over time. As consultants get to know site team leads, they must be mindful of confidentiality. Consultants often serve a significant role as confidant to many administrators who are often isolated, struggling, fearful of being let go, and don’t know from supervisors if they’re doing a good job or not. There are many opportunities to offer reassurance and support. Sending cards of encouragement when appropriate and congratulations cards when promoted helps build these vital relationships.

Site Team Lead’s Responsibilities1

The site team lead is typically designated by the school principal. In turn, the site team lead is responsible to the selection of seven to nine members on the site team. It is vital that the administrator communicate contact information for each of the site team members to the consultant. Unfortunately, with turnover, the site team lead needs to add new site team members periodically.

Restorative practices were new in the district I work with as of the 2013-14 school year. We asked the site leads to serve as a visionary, risk taker, and encourager to the site team and model restorative practices in their daily responsibilities. Leads also promote Restorative Practices (RP) at their school, The District, and community.

School Site Data

The first year of implementation, the site lead provides data on the school site’s previous year to use as a baseline. Particularly important are demographics, attendance records, school climate surveys, student discipline, home suspensions, and expulsions (if applicable). The site leads provide data annually as soon as the district data is compiled, usually in July.

It is ideal if the site team lead coordinates a monthly meeting with the site team members. This gives the site lead opportunities to work on the site implementation plan throughout the academic year with site team members. The lead and site team members can also collect documentation from RP strategies, i.e., photos, copies of projects and presentations, outline for Restorative Conferences, letter about a student changed by RP, or any other documentation.

 On-going Training

Site leads were asked to take 10 minutes each month during a staff meeting to allow for restorative practices training, mostly led by site team members. We encouraged site team members to use Restorative Practice Kete: Book Two Restorative Essentials2 to train their site staff. It features 28 training modules that take from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. Other training suggestions include do activities from RP trainings; ask the RP consultant to be a guest speaker; ask site team member(s) to share about how they use RP; do a Q and A session; show video clips; give updates on the site’s progress/statistics; etc.

Although the consultants tried to require the monthly training, we discovered that administrators have limited time for staff meetings and many requirements from the district that limits their ability to implement the trainings. Even though it is challenging, we still encourage it.

Also, the site leads carry a great deal of responsibility. They also experience joy as they see first-hand the differences that restorative practices can have on them, their staff, the students, and families.

Sources:

  1. Information adapted from Positive Behavior for Learning: Book One Introduction, New Zealand Ministry of Education, Crown, 2014, pp. 13; 15. https://pb4l.tki.org.nz/content/download/304/1385/file/Restorative%20Practice%20Book%20One.pdf education.govt.nz
  2. Crown, 2014. education.govt.nz https://pb4l.tki.org.nz/PB4L-Restorative-Practice/Restorative-Practice-Kete-Book-Two
  3. Image: Leader [hang_in_there Flckr.com]

The Role of the Site Team Lead & the Consultant in Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools

Implementation Team

There are many ways to implement restorative practices at schools. The cost of training every person in a district can be prohibitive. When I created the restorative practices in schools program for a large school district in Modesto, I developed a site team system that includes administrators, certificated staff, classified staff. It is unusual to include classified staff in most district-wide initiatives. But if restorative practices are to be implemented school wide, the classified staff must be included because they have their own unique sphere of influence. The training model involves training 7 to 9 team members from each school site for at least 3 years.

Administrator Leadership

The site teams are under the leadership of an administrator who works alongside the trainers and consultants and the site team members. At the elementary level, this person is typically the vice principal. At the secondary level the site lead is usually an associate principal. The training and consultant’s assistance and input equips site teams towards successful implementation. Ultimately, the site team is responsible for implementation. Research says that Restorative Practices (RP) in schools takes 3 to 5 years for full implementation, but my experience over nine years is that it takes much longer.

Site Team Leads & Consultant’s Roles

The heart of what consultants do happens with the site leads by building a strong connection over time. As consultants get to know site team leads, they must be mindful of confidentiality. Consultants often serve a significant role as confidant to many administrators who are often isolated, struggling, fearful of being let go, and don’t know from supervisors if they’re doing a good job or not. There are many opportunities to offer reassurance and support. Sending cards of encouragement when appropriate and congratulations cards when promoted helps build these vital relationships.

Site Team Lead’s Responsibilities1

The site team lead is typically designated by the school principal. In turn, the site team lead is responsible to the selection of 7-9 members of the site team. It is vital that the administrator communicate contact information for each of the site team members to the consultant. Unfortunately, with turnover, the site team lead needs to add new site team members periodically.

Restorative practices were new in the district I work with as of the 2003-04 school year. We ask the site lead to serve as a visionary, risk taker, and encourager to the site team and model restorative practices in his/her daily responsibilities. Leads will also promote Restorative Practices (RP) at their school, The District, and community.

School Site Data

The first year of implementation, the site lead provides data on the school site’s previous year to use as a baseline. Particularly important are demographics, attendance records, school climate surveys, student discipline, home suspensions, and expulsions (if applicable). The site leads provides this annually as soon as the district data is compiled, usually in July.

It is ideal if the site team lead coordinates a monthly meeting with the site team members. This gives the site lead opportunities to work on the site implementation plan throughout the academic year with site team members. The lead and site team members can also collect documentation from RP strategies, i.e., photos, copies of projects and presentations, outline for Restorative Conferences, letter about a student changed by RP, or any other documentation.

On-going Training

Site leads were asked to take 10 minutes each month during a staff meeting to allow for restorative practices training, mostly led by site team members. We encouraged site team members to use Restorative Practice Kete: Book Two Restorative Essentials2 to train their site staff. It features 28 training modules that take from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. Other training suggestions included doing activities from RP trainings; ask the RP consultant to be a guest speaker; ask site team member(s) to share about how they use RP; do a Q and A session; show video clips; give updates on the site’s progress/statistics; etc.

Although the consultants tried to require the monthly training, we discovered that administrators have limited time for staff meetings and many requirements from the district that limits their ability to implement the trainings. Even though it is challenging, we still encourage it.

Also, the site lead carries a great deal of responsibility, they also experience joy as they see first-hand the differences that restorative practices can have on them, their staff, the students, and families.

Sources:

  1. Information adapted from Positive Behavior for Learning: Book One Introduction, New Zealand Ministry of Education, Crown, 2014, pp. 13; 15. https://pb4l.tki.org.nz/content/download/304/1385/file/Restorative%20Practice%20Book%20One.pdf education.govt.nz
  2. Crown, 2014. education.govt.nz https://pb4l.tki.org.nz/PB4L-Restorative-Practice/Restorative-Practice-Kete-Book-Two
  3. Image: Leader [hang_in_there Flckr.com]

Is Uvalde Shooter a Victim Too?

As a college child development professor, I occasionally encountered a student with a learning disability. It was rare because most learning disabilities are detected in elementary school. I was always left wondering, how did this student graduate from high school and no one ever caught this?

I wondered the same about the Uvalde shooter. Why did he get teased for his speech, but was never provided speech therapy? In third grade, he was labeled as “at-risk” due to poor test scores.1 His mother complained to his teacher about his being bullied in fourth grade. The teacher claims it was dealt with, but former classmates indicated that the bullying continued. Several weeks before the shooting, he discussed with acquaintances bad memories from 4th grade.1 Does the fact that he returned to his 4th grade classroom to start shooting tell us anything? Is it possible that the Uvalde shooter was also a victim?

How did he miss over 100 days of school for several years in high school, but was never addressed by the school attendance review board? Could it be the last time the mother went to the school for help was way back in fourth grade?

As a mom, educator, grandma, and mother-in-law to a law enforcement officer, I’ve been very engaged in this shooting as written about in two earlier posts, Class of 2030 Missing 19 and Uvalde Grandma is a Victim Too. I was too shocked to read the 81-page report it at one time – I read it in sections. The report indicated that the 18-year-old would be referred to as “the attacker,” not his real name.2 He wanted notoriety. They wouldn’t give it to him. How can they give him notoriety when he’s dead? His real notoriety should be that educators for years and years ignored this young man’s pleas for help.

This 18-year-old teenager had a name and people who loved him. Fox News is the only headline that even counted him in the death count. Uvalde, Texas school shooting leaves 19 children, 3 adults, including shooter dead.3 His name is Salvador Ramos.

“He exhibited almost every warning sign,” John Cohen, an ABC News contributor and the former acting undersecretary for intelligence and counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview. “This guy should have been on everybody’s radar.”4

He’s right. He should have been on everyone’s radar. How did he manage to stay in school as long as he did? Why did no one intervene on his behalf? We can do better. We must do better as educators and parents What child or student are you missing on your radar?

Sources:

  1. Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting, Texas House of Representatives, Interim Report 2022, July 17, 2022, p. 33 https://static.texastribune.org/media/files
  2. IIbid, p. 31.
  3. Fox News, Louis Casiano and Lawrence Richard, 2022-05-24. https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2614164652037/uvalde-texas-school-shooting-leaves-19-children-3-adults-including-shooter-dead
  1. Uvalde shooter exhibited ‘almost every warning sign,’ expert says. The alleged shooter showed a pattern of warning signs. Nadine El-Bawab, July 20, 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/US/uvalde-shooter-exhibited-warning-sign-expert/story?id=87064502

5.    Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uvalde_County,_Texas

 

 

 

 

 

Uvalde Shooter’s Grandmother is a Victim Too

We see it all the time in movies, television, books, and social media. Someone points a gun at someone and shoots. Often, that is followed by a graphic image of the victim. But what if it happened to you?

You’ve invited your eighteen-year-old grandson to live in your home since he’s been having problems at home. You have high hopes that with your love and attention, you can help him. You know you can provide a safe place free of drugs. You become one of an estimated 2.7 million grandparents in the United States who are raising their grandchildren.1

May 24, 2022, starts off as an ordinary day when suddenly moments of terror occur. Your grandson, Salvador, points a shotgun at your face. You can’t imagine what he’s doing with a gun aimed at you. You remember the day he was born with pride and joy. He shoots. Directly at your face. He races away in your car. You miraculously get up off the floor and walk to a neighbors’ house to get help. You’re airlifted to San Antonio and are “still holding on” that night.

No one knows how you, Celia “Sally” Gonzales, 66, survived. All your teeth are shattered, and you can only communicate in writing. You may never be able to speak again. You have four surgeries over five weeks with more in the future. You’re transferred to a skilled nursing facility on June 28, 2022.

At some point you’re shocked to hear about the massacre at Robb Elementary. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed. Your precious grandson was killed by police. Your grandson’s funeral is held while you’re hospitalized.

Your life will never be the same. Not physically or emotionally. You will carry your grandson’s loss the rest of your life. You will grieve the rest of your life. You will wonder what signs you missed that he could murder children and teachers in cold blood. You will never know how to answer the question, “Why did this happen?”

Your daughter, Natalie Salazar, starts a GoFundMe2 page to cover your medical expenses not covered by insurance. You’ve received almost half of the 100,000 goal. I identify with this grandmother. I feel led to donate to her expenses. That helps with the financial burden, but not the weight of what happened. No amount of money will erase the pain. You, too, are one of the victims of this heartbreak.

Sources:

1. Taking Care of Yourself While Raising Your Grandchildren
https://www.retireguide.com/guides/self-care-raising-grandchildren/

2. https://www.gofundme.com/f/celia-gonzales

3. https://www.gssne.org/en/our-council/news/2022/Our_hearts_are_with_Uvalde.html

4. Image: Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England

 

Who Are You Wearing?

I’m browsing an article I like. And an ad pops up that draws my attention to a few dresses I’d viewed on-line. The ad asks a simple question. “Who are you wearing?” I chuckle. In bold font, “All your favorite designers 30% off only for friends and family.”

I certainly enjoy shopping sales but as for who I’m wearing, my answer doesn’t fit Macy’s advertising target audience. It doesn’t fit brand advertising period.

Learning To Sew

In 7th grade I joined 4-H and learned to sew. My mom became my sewing leader. Prior to that my mom made most all my clothes from my first day-of-school dresses to new Easter dresses to dresses for special religious occasions. The last dress she made me was my 8th grade graduation. The dress was in blushing pink dotted swiss fabric.

New Sewing 4-H Leader

After two years, I could make anything I wanted. “I can’t teach you anything more. You need a new 4-H sewing leader. She found me my freshman 4-H sewing leader during summer school, a Sacramento State home economist teacher. She taught a small group of teens advanced sewing skills. I learned tailoring so I could create blazers and coats and even make Vogue patterns that were more difficult than Butterick, Simplicity and McCalls patterns.

I’m not coordinated enough to play sports, but my eye-hand coordination is excellent. I discovered joy in choosing patterns for 65 cents, calico prints for $1.29 per yard and creating one-of-a-kind clothing. Sewing became my passion. I learned to sew quickly, and could create something new in a few hours.

1960s and Pants

When I started high school, the 1960’s women’s liberation movement brought pants to school. Girls were no longer confined to dresses and skirts. Though fashion changed I’ve never liked pants nearly as much as dresses and skirts. To this day, they are my go-to wardrobe, even in the summer. Skirts and dresses are way cooler than shorts.

I not only still created my own clothing, but made my daughter’s clothes too. I whipped up their Cabbage Patch dolls’ complete wardrobes that my grand-daughters now use with their dolls. I imagined I’d make my future grand-daughter’s clothing and teach them to sew.

Sewing Became Shopping

That was until I was thirty-five. What changed? I took a part-time teaching job and had more money to buy clothes and less time, so I sewed less. Now my sewing abilities are limited by my brain impairment. I managed to make Parker a quilt and Khloe’s doll a blanket and an outfit. I bought a doll pattern and made Kylie some doll clothes.

Often when I shop at clothing stores, I see something I like, such as a collar and sleeves on a dress but I don’t like the rest of it. Or I’d like it if it was a different fabric or color. Lately I’ve seen many items with peplums that I wore in high school. That’s when I wish I still sewed. I’d just mix and match pattern pieces, choose my fabric and create my own designer fashions.

I admit, there are certain designers I like better than others. But these designers have one criteria in common. Their logos and brands are not blasted on the clothing item. I don’t buy eye glasses or shoes that have brands displayed prominently either. Except once by total accident.

Granddaughter and Brands

I said to my granddaughter, “I like your top.”

She replied, “It’s from Justice.”

I then see the brand, “Justice,” across her shirt. I ask, “Does Justice pay you to advertise for them?” At seven, she didn’t understand my point, but perhaps you will.

Who am I Wearing?

Why do people pay more money to wear expensive designer labels and voluntarily advertise for them for free? If designers offered to pay me to advertise their clothing brand I might consider it momentarily, but ultimately, I’d refuse. I’d refuse for the same answer I have to the Macy’s ad.

When Macy’s asks, “Who am I wearing,” My answer is, “I’m wearing me. And I’ve been wearing me since I was twelve years old.” I buy clothing I like without labels on sale. What about you? How would you answer their advertising question, “Who do you wear?”

 

Image Source: Businessman w toy block Brand text [Flickr.com]

New Workshop: Restorative Practices and Picture Books

It is summertime and I’m working on some new restorative practices workshops for this school year. The one I’m most excited about involves children’s picture books. As a former child development professor, I love children’s books.

Social Justice Books

I was inspired by a workshop during the Restorative Justice World Conference in April by Carmen Zeisler with ESSDACK, an educational organization. She provided links to children’s social justice book web sites. I’m enjoying previewing books I’m finding at my local library. My introductory workshop is titled Building Community Using Circles and Picture Books and is for K-3rd grade educators.

New Children’s Book

Today I heard about Wally & Freya, a new restorative practices book for children. This book is also by one of the presenters from the conference. Dr. Lindsey Pointer and Kathleen McGoey taught a workshop, Games and Activities for Teaching Restorative Justice. I get a monthly email highlighting new activities. Today’s activity featured the book.

Amazon describes Pointer’s Wally & Freya as follows,

“A heartwarming picture book that teaches empathy and inclusion.

Everyone knows Wally is a bully. He steals lunch every day from Bella Jo the bear, calls Oliver the owl mean names, and never shares the crayons. So when the other animals decide to write a story together and the notebook disappears, there is little doubt that Wally has taken it.

But what the animals don’t know is why Wally acts the way he does. As they unravel the mystery of the missing notebook, they also begin to understand Wally, which leads to a surprising and joyous discovery.

This sweet story teaches children empathy and the amazing power of kindness and inclusion. The first in a new series on restorative justice practices for kids, this book is sure to delight children and grownups alike.”

I can’t wait to get the book and integrate it into my new workshop.

New Workshop Description

Building Community Using Circles and Picture Books

Learn how your students can connect deeply and personally to the books they read. Using the restorative practices framework, educators can develop safe, supportive spaces in schools by creating community-building circles around picture books. This workshop for K-3rd grade educators begins with an overview of restorative practices in education, circle guidelines, community building circles basics, and connections to CASEL’s (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) standards. Do you have any suggestions, changes, or deletions? I’d love to hear from my readers.