Pathway to Webpage: Gateway to Restorative Practices

The end of the 2022-23 school year aligns with a decade of adventure as a part-time Restorative Practices in Schools trainer and consultant with a large school district. Over the years my webpage From Diapers to Diamonds offered a dedicated page for Restorative Practices in Schools participants to access. As the need grew, I realized I needed an entire webpage devoted to restorative practices.

Original Plans Change

The original plans were to revise my current webpage until I discovered it is less expensive to create a new one. Kim Eddy, WordPress designer and programmer does work for my husband, Rick, so he suggested I contact her. I begin working alongside her on the new page. Pages and pages of ideas are stored in a file folder filled with ideas and pictures I’ve gathered over the years in anticipation of this day.

The Adventure Begins

The pathway to a new webpage is an adventure. After spending hours locating restorative practices/justice webpages already out there, I decided my webpage will be Restorative Practices in Schools for Educators. The purpose and who the webpage is for is clear. But I’m uncomfortable with it. It seems too long and too boring. While Rick and I are in Palm Desert in August 2023, I ask Rick to pray with me about discovering a different webpage name.

The Sign Awaits

The next day I’m driving to a shopping center I’ve driven to countless times. But as I turn onto the road, I’m suddenly curious. I wonder, What’s the name of this shopping center? I strain to read the upcoming sign. It says Gateway. Immediately I thought, That’s it. Gateway to Restorative Practices. From that moment I moved forward with the Gateway concept.

Next, I begin scouring the Internet for gateway ideas for my logo. Any potential gate image I find I save to my logo folder. I really like the image below with the blocks on the pillars. The blocks will spell G-A-T-E-W-A-Y.

This image is the gateway-gardens-greensboro-north-carolina-work-progress-includes-fun-children-s-garden from https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos

How Many Pillars Are Out There?

I find every type of pillar imaginable. Pillars are too fancy, too plain, too detailed, and so on. Maybe half a pillar will work better than a full one. I consider other images, but I like the block concept on a half pillar enough that I send ideas to Kim to create potential logos. I’m happy with what she designs and ready to move forward but decide some input from others would be advisable for this project.

Input From Others

I send the gateway blocks with pillar images to a group of friends and family for input. A few like some of them but most say the blocks look too childish and the various pillars/columns don’t look right. I get suggestions that the logo needs to look more like a gate or entrance. I’m tempted to use the one I like but wisdom wins, and I adhere to the input from others.

Archways and Gateways

More image searching. This time I’m intently looking for various arches, gates, and entrances. I view over 40 architectural archway styles. I discover countless entrances that use archways, mostly to gardens or educational institutions. I narrow my choices to a circular image and one with archway lines. Here’s the circular image I like. [Gateway to College]

Kim creates more logos. I send the archway and circle logos out for preview. This time there’s more consensus. I feel some relief. I’m getting closer to the logo finish line.

Colors Abound

Now it’s time to select the color theme. Kim sends me examples of color schemes. I choose a few I like, but I’m not really sold on them. Too bright. Too dull. Too gold. Too yellow green. Kim mentions I can select colors from various schemes and combine them. I consider that while I come across 2022 and 2023 popular color schemes and narrow my choices to 3 or 4. Ultimately, I still can’t decide. Again, I pray. “Lord, please help me choose the color scheme.”

Color Scheme Awaits

A few days later I walked into my doctor’s office and the colors on the wall await. Immediately I thought, these are the colors for my web page. I’ll add hot pink as the 10% color accent. I took a photo of the wall. I left the office two hours later with no help for my pain, but the colors for my logo are decided.

I’m excited driving home. Some people may consider it silly to pray about little things like webpage names and colors. I’m always amazed at how God answer prayers, but He’s also concerned about the little things when I petition Him. Here’s the wall and colors from my doctor’s office. [Boomerang]

Kim easily identifies the specific colors. The 5 R’s of Restorative Practices actually represent the restorative process from start to finish: Relationship, Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Reintegration. They are simple and clear; I really want the 5 R’s in my logo.

Sneak Peak

Ultimately, Kim combines the archway lines with the 5 R’s in a circle to offer a second logo for my endeavors. Here’s a sneak preview of the logos for my new webpage that is near completion.

A Special Thank You

I especially want to thank those who took the time to offer their input and guidance. Thank you to my faithful writers group: Pauline, John, and Pam, my husband Rick, my friend Barbara, and my daughter Michelle who used her graphic design background to direct me along the way. I also want to thank my nephew, Fred, for showing me various webpage styles and features. I’m also grateful for Kim who is creative and patient with me.

Introducing Gateway to Restorative Practices

I can’t wait to introduce you to my new webpage, Gateway to Restorative Practices, and all it offers that I was unable to include on one designated page on my original webpage, From Diapers to Diamonds. I will keep you updated when it is ready. You’re going to appreciate all it offers.

Restorative Practices = Relationships

Many of you know that I’ve been working on creating a curriculum for an all-day new seminar for quite some time. RP 201 From ACEs to PACEs – Building Restorative Relationships launched on October 21, 2023. Some activities went exactly as planned while others need some improvement. I used more quotes than usual in this seminar because they helped introduce trauma and restorative practices principles. In this blog post I will share some of my favorites.

Restorative Justice Education

At the beginning of the seminar, we introduced the concept of Restorative Justice Education and interconnectedness.

“Being proactive in creating school climates where the well-being of every member is sought requires that restorative justice education facilitators return over and over to the core beliefs of interconnectedness, worth, and the well-being of all participants.” —Evans and Vaanderling 1, p. 108

Relationships

As we anticipated, some of the participants had participated in a previous restorative practices training, but this was the first training for most. We wanted participants to connect restorative practices immediately to relationships.

“Relationships are at the heart of all we do as educators. Knowing how to build positive relationships with students is a cornerstone skill.” —Chris Werj2

Students with Trauma

One of the seminar goals is Take the TRAUMA Out of School Discipline. How can we do this?

 “Students learn self-regulation best when they feel connected and safe, and they feel connected and safe when educators focus on building empathy instead of doling out punishment.”3

Sometimes educators focus so much on academics, we forget what students who’ve experienced trauma need.

“When working with trauma-impacted students, we must reach their hearts before we can reach their heads.”4—Dr. Ken Ginsburg

Support for Adults with ACEs

As expected in a group of 40+ educators, the majority heard about ACEs for the first time. ACEs is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Some participants discovered that some of their life-challenges stem from childhood trauma. Although the seminar’s focus is on students, we offered hope to adults who’ve experienced trauma. Here are two special quotes for those of us or those who have family and friends with ACEs.

“The best thing we can do for the children we care for is to manage our own stuff. Adults who’ve resolved their own trauma help kids feel safe.”5 —Donna Jackson Nakazawa

“The main point is this: No matter how old you are – or how old your child may be, there are scientifically supported and relatively simple steps that you can take to reboot the brain, create new pathways that promote healing, and come back to who it is you were meant to be.”5 — Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Beyond an ACEs Score

The next quote is by the same author who wrote the two previous quotes. For those participants just discovering they have ACEs indicators, they need more than just a score. Donna Jackson Nakazawa is the author of Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal (2016). Even though her book was published several years ago, I discovered it through my research for this new seminar. I just purchased the book for myself. In a future blog post, I will share about Nakazawa’s book. Her quote follows.

“Learning about ACEs is a start but sometimes we need more. Many people with ACEs have never had their pain validated. Understanding that there exists a biological connection between what they experienced in childhood, and the physical and mental health issues they face now, can help set them on a healing path, where they begin to find new ways to take care of themselves, and begin new healing modalities.” —Donna Jackson Nakazawa 5, p. 2

Learn More About ACEs

  • Handouts: Understanding ACEs & Parenting to Prevent & Heal ACEs. Natalie Audage, October 10, 2018. https://www.pacesconnection.com/blog/flyers-understanding-aces-and-parenting-to-prevent-and-heal-aces
  • Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence. Bethell C, Jones J, Gombojav N, Linkenbach J, Sege R. Positive Childhood
    Experiences and Adult Mental and Relational Health in a Statewide
    Sample: Associations Across Adverse Childhood Experiences Levels. JAMA
    Pediatrician. 2019;173(11):e193007. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3007 

Sources

  1. Restorative Justice in Education: Fostering Responsibility, Healing, and Hope in Schools. Katherine Evans and Dorothy Vaanderling, NY: Good Books, 2016, 2022.
  2. 6 Keys to Connecting with the Disconnected. Chris Wejr, March 9, 2016. http://chriswejr.com/2016/03/09/6-keys-to-connecting-with-the-disconnected/
  3. Create a Restorative School Culture. Nathan Maynard, slide 16. https://www.iirp.edu/images/conf_downloads/Xezadm_Creating_a_Culture_of_RP-_IIRP.pdf
  1. ACEs, School Climate and Restorative Practices: What are the Connections and What Do These Look Like in Practice? Permission granted from Jo Ann Freiberg, Ph.D. and Patricia A. Ciccone, C.A.G.S., L. P.C. August 2023. schoolclimateconsultants.com
  2. Parenting to Prevent and Heal ACEs, Donna Jackson Nakazawa, PACES Connection, no date, pp. 1; 2. https://www.pacesconnection.com/ws/ParentingPreventACEs-English.pdf
  1. Image: Opportunity and Achievement Restorative Practices [https://www.mpsaz.org]
  2. Image: heart-love-sunset-the-sun-sky-shape-34959 [pickpik.com]

 

Restorative Practices Fall Frenzy

It has been a while since I last posted a blog. August and September are keeping me extremely busy. I want to share with you about the new things happening around restorative practices and my role.

Gateway to Restorative Practices

For ten years I’ve used my From Diapers to Diamonds website for restorative practices. It was less expensive to create a new one than to revise the existing page. I’m thrilled that Kim Eddy is creating my new page, Gateway to Restorative Practices. The logo is done! Colors were decided yesterday. Most of the images are selected. The content is written for all but one page. It is keeping me busy!

RP 201 Premiers October 21, 2023

RP 201: From ACEs to PACEs – Building Restorative Relationships is just around the corner. I share the content with the trainers in less than three weeks, on October 3. I have two challenges: I over-researched and I have too many ideas! Choosing from so many resources can be mind boggling. Right now, I’m eliminating articles I like for sections and choosing the best ones. The titles are so similar sometimes I get confused.

Less Training, More Research & Curriculum Development

Central Valley YFC begins its 11th year as contracted employees with Modesto City Schools. In 2013 we started with two trainers, Marty Villa, LMFT and me and five school sites. Now we’re at 34 school sites and have five part-time trainers. Four of the trainers are also marriage & family therapists, which adds great insight and people skills to our training. I will be working alongside them offering training tips.

I absolutely love doing the training and engaging with participants. In my part-time role I can’t do everything! I will still be presenting at some all-day trainings and workshops, but I’ll be doing even more of what I love which is also my expertise: research and creating curriculum! I feel blessed about the opportunity but now I’ll miss having the strong connections with the school sites. I’m adjusting to my new role. One of my school sites asked if I could do training every month. I instantly reply, “I sure can!” Then I remember. Final decision: I’m doing a fall and spring workshop!

Restorative Practices Webinars Flourish

Restorative Practices webinars have flourished since 2020. One way I stay abreast of restorative practices trends and research is attending webinars with cutting edge information and practitioners, I meet other colleagues who are passionate about restorative practices in schools and network with them. Some of my favorite providers are Panorama Ed, Generation Schools Network, San Diego County Office of Education, Empowering Education, Paces Connections, Pathways to Resilience, and Heinemann Publishing. I’m always getting notifications from these and new ones as well.

Most recently I attended NEAR Sciences: Beyond ACEs, the National Restorative Coaching Program, Restorative Justice in Fiction: Engaging Youth and Adults Through the Power of Story, and 10 Ways to Create Connections and Community that went right into RP 201. I’m looking forward to Reframing Restorative Justice for Advocates and Educators. Webinars are currently scheduled as far out as December.

First Restorative Practices Collaboration

I couldn’t wait for the first RP Collaboration of the school year with San Diego County Office of Education. Even though there were only seven of us, I was not disappointed! It is so fulfilling to share and learn from others who are committed to RP in schools using a circle format.

This is a free virtual event open to anyone interested on one Wednesday a month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. Registration is required. You can contact Jen Vermillion at Jennifer.vermillion@sdcoe.net) to register if you’d like to participate.

Fall Updates

Every fall we complete school site updates with each school’s principal and AP or VP. Questions are generated from what’s occurred the past year. I met with staff on Teams from two elementary sites this fall. I was happy to hear about successes and able to offer a few suggestions for challenges. I sent both sites information about re-integrating students back into school after suspensions. A very powerful strategy for re-engaging learners.

I have way more updates than I realized! By mid-October I will post new blog topics more regularly. And soon they will be on my new website, Gateway to Restorative Practices!

Image Source: 35862-2-falling-leaves-transparent [freepngimg.com]

Restorative Practices Reflection Spring 2023, Part 2

My last blog post was part 1 of this blog post. You can read part 1 at https://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/restorative-practices-reflection-spring-2023-part-1/

Monthly Collaboration

I was blessed to attend SDCOE (San Diego County Office of Education’s) monthly collaboration in April and May. I just registered for the first one in September for the 2023-24 school year. Here’s their description: “Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) Collaborative holds a monthly meeting where restorative practitioners in education come together to network, share ideas that could be helpful to other practitioners, and share successes as well as challenges being experiences while implementing RJP.”

It is a free virtual event one Wednesday a month from 10:00 to 11:30 but registration is required. Here’s the contact info to register if you’d like to join. Contact Person – Anthony Ceja (Email: aceja@sdcoe.net) For registration questions – Jen Vermillion (Email: Jennifer.vermillion@sdcoe.net).

Training Proposal for 2023-2024

During the spring, I begin creating ideas for the proposal for the new school year. During the year I have opportunities to learn about what’s new in restorative practices and trends. Some of this year’s topics were professional development ideas for the week before school begins, new materials to distribute to site leads, strategies for the intervention centers, new workshops, monthly collaboration via zoom, and a restorative practices summer institute for 2024.

New Seminar RP 201

I recently posted on my Diapers to Diamonds Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fromdiaperstodiamonds “I’m so excited to let you know that a new six hour seminar has been approved by the District. In addition to RP 101: Intro to Restorative Practices, we will be offering RP 201: From ACEs to PACEs: Building Restorative Relationships. We will offer each seminar three times during the school year. I’ll post the description soon. This is the third year I have proposed this seminar so I’m thrilled. Now I need to get busy. It is tentatively scheduled for October.”

So, I’m currently in my favorite part of my role. Doing research and developing curriculum for training. It is fun to see how I can connect research to interactive and engaging activities for adult learning. Off to do research. I’ll post again soon.

 

Image Source: reflections-water-river 8014894 [Pixabay.com]

 

 

 

 

Restorative Practices Reflection Spring 2023, Part 1

It feels a little strange to write a reflection about recent events, but it will finish the reflections for the 2022-2023 school year. In December I learned that we would be training the District’s newly hired behavior analysts in January. This kept me busy developing tier 3 strategies for them.

Also, in January I was able to lead a content circle for teachers at one of my school sites. Providing experiences in circles often fosters interest in circles and some become interested in doing circles with their students. In this case, I worked with two teachers on using community building circles.

My colleagues and I did a weekly workshop for five weeks for a school site. I did three of the five workshops. It is fun to get-to-know learners over time and connect their learning from workshop to workshop. It was during this time I found myself asking, why don’t I have circles as part of every Restorative Practices workshop I developed? I’m slowly integrating them into the 25+ workshops.

In March I attended a workshop with San Diego County Office of Ed called Restorative Leadership: Healing Our School Communities. My colleagues and I work with 34 school sites K-12. Having spent a decade training site teams and working with administrators who are Restorative Practices site team leaders, I’m very interested in RP leadership & sustainability. I appreciated the definition of restorative leaders and why they’re necessary. The table with oppressive leadership and restorative leadership provided key points for each. The restorative (servant) leadership fits both my professional and personal beliefs. We had several times to interact and learn from others. I’m so thankful for Mr. Ceja’s leadership. He leads SDCOE restorative practices program.

I’m looking forward to sharing the insights I gained with the administrators I work alongside. We are also modifying their acknowledgement of ancestors and community agreements for our RP 101 seminars during our summer planning.

In April I attended another San Diego County Office of Ed called Restorative Justice Practices Site Implementation and Sustainability. We began by looking at building a foundation of building trust and respect with staff and students. They recommended both holding staff and department meetings in circles and ensuring that staff have access to regular check-ins and become accustomed to using circles. From the feedback we received from site leads last fall, it appears that none of the schools I work with are practicing this, but I’ll continue pursuing this option with them.

We considered staff feeling overwhelmed with school initiatives as well as implementation science and continuous Improvement. Sites reach what’s considered full Implementation when at least 50% of the site’s educators are committed and implementing restorative practices and showing outcome improvements. They recommended using a site team for implementation which is how the training cohorts were originally set up. One of this fall’s update questions focuses on determining what implementation level each site is.

There’s more to share so I’ll post a second part to this blog post.

 

Image Source: pink-flower-tree-and-green-grass [freerangestock.com]

2022 Fall Restorative Practices Reflections

The fall arrives sooner than expected. Christina worked diligently during the late summer getting the 34-school site leads scheduled to meet with one of our four trainers for a fall update on Zoom. Twenty-six site team leads spent time with us offering us insight to the transition back-to-school after Covid-19 and their restorative practices plans. For the most part, the input we received reported that students came back developmentally delayed by about two years in academics and behaviors.

Left Behind

We also learned about 2nd graders who arrived at school for the first time. These students are already two years behind. What does a teacher do with 2nd graders reading alongside classmates who can’t identify letters? The district also hired additional behavior specialists to work with students with out-of-control behaviors.

Re-engaging in Restorative Practices

One of the reasons we were so busy this year is that many school sites re-engaged in restorative practices after returning from Covid-19. Working with the school site staff is a privilege we don’t take lightly. We are blessed to walk alongside those who believe that restorative practices in schools provides a positive alternative to punitive discipline.

RP 101: Introduction to Restorative Practices

We did our first of seven all-day trainings on Saturday, September 16 called RP 101: Introduction to Restorative Practices. Participants can earn a stipend for professional development when they complete six hours. These trainings are really fun for us as trainers and for participants. I created the curriculum with engaging activities throughout the day that keep participants actively learning. The day is over before we know it!

My Restorative Practices for Educators Book Update

I’m still working on my restorative practices book. My editor at Heinemann Publishers edited my chapter, The Power of Affective Statements. She returned it with massive changes. I met with her via Zoom to find out if I was able to make the changes she wants – work on flow. We decided to move forward. She accepted my edited chapter months later.

San Diego County Office of Education Restorative Practices

On November 16, I had the opportunity to take a three-hour zoom workshop with San Diego County Office of Education. I get much of my research from this site as well as Oakland USD, LAUSD, and Minnesota Department of Education. The workshop was Alignment of PBIS & Restorative Practices. If you asked me prior to the workshop about my knowledge of the topic I’d say I was knowledgeable. I wasn’t!

They presented so many strategies on how Restorative Practices complements Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). I’m so thankful for the leadership of Anthony Ceja, Senior Manager, System of Supports and Robert Ruiz who handles the registration and technology end. I continued trainings and networking in the spring with their program. If you’re interested in their workshops you can access videos at Restorative Practices – San Diego County Office of Education (sdcoe.net)

Developing Six Workshops on Circles

One of our school sites requested more training on circles. Previously we offered a broader overview of workshops. In addition to the circle I mentioned in the summer update, Building Community Using Circles & Social Justice Picture Books (for Preschool-3rd grade), I expanded what we had into five more workshops:

·       Introduction to Circles: The Basics,

·       Community Building Circles,

·       Decision-Making Circles,

·       Academic Content Circles, and

·       Problem-Solving Circles.

There are plans to create an additional circle on Healing & Reintegration Circles. These workshops weren’t added to the workshop offerings until January 2023. I’m hopeful many school sites will select some of these for their restorative practices’ training hours for 2023-2024. To view a listing of the 35 or so workshops currently offered, visit https://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/restorative-practices/training/ I have a long list of potential new topics so stay tuned.

It was a busy fall. We even did RP 101 training on December 17. It was one of the rainiest days we had, but it didn’t hinder the participants’ enthusiasm for training. My next blog post will be 2023 Restorative Practices Spring Reflection.

 

Image Source: fall-colors-4702561 Michael Travis waterfrontagent [Pixabay.com]

2022 Restorative Practices Summer Reflections

As the 2022-23 school year winds down, I’ve been reflecting on the past year. This past year, the 9th year with the school district, has been the busiest for me and the other three trainers.

Just like we’ll do next month, we started off last summer with two planning days. I appreciate the three other trainers I work alongside, Kourtney, Sam, and Christina. From 2013 through 2019, I did the training as well as the day-to-day oversight of the restorative practices program. When we got to about 24 school sites, it became too many sites for me to handle on a part-time basis.

Leadership Change

That’s when Kourtney stepped in. She’s actually the Director of the Family Concern Counseling at Central Valley YFC. I was given the opportunity to write the transition plan so there would be continuity from person-to-person. This change allowed me to focus on what I enjoy most: training, research, and developing curriculum. I also reduced the school sites I work with directly. She’s an excellent collaborative leader and I enjoy working with her immensely.

Children’s Social Justice Books

Last summer I developed a new workshop titled Building Community Using Circles and Social Justice Picture Books for pre-school to third grade teachers. As a former child development professor, I love children’s books. I had so much fun seeing what was out there since I taught at Merced College. Unfortunately, not one elementary site selected the workshop for one of their trainings. I hope elementary sites will discover this gem. I’d love to create community building circles with ten more social justice books. Here’s a link to my blog post. https://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/building-circles-community-around-picture-books-a-restorative-practices-book-review/

Parent Workshop

I also spent time developing more workshops for parents. Dodging the Power Struggle Trap is our most popular workshop. The trainers all thought this would be a terrific workshop for parents. Unfortunately, it wasn’t selected as a training for parents either.

Author Interview 1

I had the opportunity to interview two authors for my blog. Before I learned about this book, I met the author, Lynne M. Lang, founder and Executive Director at Restoration Matters. 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. I appreciate having some faith-based resources available. Here’s a link to my blog post. https://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/virtue-based-restorative-discipline-comprehensive-guide-a-restorative-practices-book-review/

Author Interview 2

Before I learned about the second book, I had also met one of the authors, Genevieve Price, through a referral. I was looking to talk with someone who is actually doing restorative practices with preschoolers.  was delighted when she shared about her book, Encircled: Bringing Family Virtue Circles Home, co-authored with Ann Polan. I love that this book is a tool to incorporate virtue education and discussion amongst families and is based on Colossians 3:12-15. Here’s a link to my blog post. https://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/encircled-bringing-family-virtue-circles-home-a-restorative-practices-book-review/

Early Kick-off

We started our restorative practices trainings earlier than usual. We actually had trainings scheduled in August. I had the privilege of training all the special education teachers and paraprofessionals at Davis High School on Restorative Practices and Special Education. As is true of most of the trainings we do, participants were engaged and eager to learn. It was a delightful experience to share with them.

I feel blessed that in 2013, the Lord opened the door for me to become a restorative practices in schools trainer and consultant. I can’t think of a better fit for my passion and gifts. In my next blog post, I’ll reflect on some of the fall 2022 happenings.

 

Image Source: Mirror sunset reflection [pxhere.com_1602073]

 

Participants’ Myths About Restorative Practices Declines

During the first five years that I did Restorative Practices in schools trainings, much of my time was spent dispelling myths. Participants arrived at full-day seminars and workshops proudly ready to share their knowledge about RP. Unfortunately, most of their information was incorrect, but these participants were also operating at their school sites under the myths, further perpetuating inaccurate information.

Early Myths

Here are some common myths about Restorative Practices I heard regularly. Have you heard any of these?

  • Restorative Practices are just some touchy-feely programs.
  • Restorative Practices are just sitting in circles.
  • There are no consequences with Restorative Practices.
  • Restorative justice is soft. Students are not held accountable for their actions.

 Some of my attempts at sharing accurate information were met with hostility. That struck me as odd. Participants attended trainings to learn about implementing Restorative Practices principles at their school sites but stood solidly by their myths.

Recently during a Restorative Practices 101 six-hour training I realized that many myths that were so hard core a few years ago are now reduced to three common myths. Occasionally I hear an outlier myth, but these three still stand strong.

Three Still Standing Restorative Practices Myths

Myth #1. Students Can’t be Suspended

After almost a decade of training, this is the most common myth I hear; it is still alive and well. I’m told over and over, “We can’t suspend students.”

I inquire, “Where did you learn that?” They usually can’t come up with an answer. I add, “Restorative Practices is not against suspensions. The program offers many alternatives to suspensions, but there are times when the offense is such that a suspension is the only consequence.

Also, if a student doesn’t want to participate in an alternative restorative conference, the administrator uses traditional punishment. This next myth ties closely to myth one.

Myth #2: Restorative Practices are Mandatory for Students

Early in the day of an all-day training, the trainers share ten principles of restorative practices. One of the principles is that restorative practices are voluntary.

A participant shares, “At our site, students are told that restorative practices are mandatory. They don’t have a choice. What you’re saying makes so much sense.”

I assure the participants that Restorative Practices provides an alternative to traditional punishment, but it doesn’t remove it from being an option. In circumstances, such as bullying, it might not be appropriate for the bullied student to meet face-to-face with the student who is being the bully. It may cause more harm. If the student isn’t willing to take responsibility for his/her behavior, Restorative Practices isn’t an option. Restorative Practices requires participant’s acceptance of personal responsibility.

In the case of restorative conferences in lieu of suspension, sometimes the parents/guardians refuse. At one school site a restorative conference was set up with all the participants. The morning of the conference the parents of the student harmed backed out saying, “I want the student punished.” Parents/guardians don’t get to dictate punishment, but they can choose not to participate. The impending restorative conference was cancelled.

Myth #3: Restorative Practices Takes Too Much Time

I can’t envision a day when I won’t hear this myth. This myth is typically used to disguise, “I don’t want to do this.” The excuse isn’t necessary since it is voluntary not only for students but for staff, teachers, and administrators. Of the 34 sites we work with, eight school sites chose not to meet with a Restorative Practices trainer for a fall update in 2022.

Anytime we learn something new, it takes longer in the beginning. But as educators begin using the skills, the interventions take less time and become integrated into daily routines.

However, restorative conferences do take way more time than saying, “You’re suspended for three days.” Restorative conferences are typically led by administrators who believe the time spent is investing in helping the student learn from the mistakes. The student is challenged to make things as right as possible for the person(s) the student harmed, restore the relationship(s) if possible, and move towards healing and a plan for changing behavior, which is always a win.

How to Address Myths

If you hear myths about Restorative Practices, Restorative Practices Partnership Denver offers a few ways to address myths at your site in their article, Myths About Restorative Practices and How to Address It.1

  • Ensure that educators’ concerns about Restorative Practices can be voiced to a Restorative Practices expert who can help them dispel myths by responding with realities.
  • If the goals of Restorative Practices become foggy, offer booster training periodically.
  • When training on the levels of interventions used with students, be transparent about them when students are referred to the restorative practices process.
  • From the beginning be very clear about the expectations of implementing Restorative Practices. Don’t present Restorative Practices as a cure-all to fix all the school’s problems. clarify the purposes and day-to-day realities of restorative practices implementation.

What Restorative Practices myths do you hear on your campus?

Sources:

  1. Myths About Restorative Practices and How to Address It. RPP (Restorative Practices Partnership) Denver. https://rjpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/Myth-vs.-Reality-revised.pdf
  2. Image: Facts_Myths [commons.wikimedia.org]

 

 

Am I Triggering Power Struggles with Students?

My colleagues and I had the opportunity to observe every three weeks at 12 junior and senior high schools at the newly established Intervention Centers. We spent about one and a half hours at each site. As a restorative practices trainer and consultant, I had the opportunity to witness many reasons students are sent to the Intervention Centers (what used to be called in-school suspension).

Reasons Students Are Sent to Intervention Centers

Yes, there are students who are sent to the Intervention Centers on a somewhat regular basis. Others are seen once, and they don’t return. But there’s another group often not talked about. It’s the students of teachers who refer countless times more students than most teachers. When I was a teacher at Johansen High School, the administrators recognized the five teachers who had the lowest number of referrals during the academic year.

On the other hand, the names weren’t announced, but the number of the three highest referrals were also mentioned. These referrals were in the hundreds. Typically, educators with high referral numbers create these endless referrals by engaging students in power struggles.

Pushing Buttons: Think About It

Take a moment to think of one student’s behavior that pushes your buttons. How would you answer the following questions?

  • What does the student say and/or do that triggers you?
  • How do you usually respond?
  • How does the student respond to your response?
  • If the educator engages in a power struggle with a student, who is really at fault?
  • Why do we send students to the office when educators engage in the power struggle and contribute to escalating it?

Setting the Trap

Some students are excellent at setting traps for educators. The list of how they set the trap is long. But here are a few traps. A student who intentionally tries to get into an argument with an adult. Any adult will do. The student exhibits challenging behaviors or refuses to follow the rules. The student is no longer interested in problem solving, but provoking others and being right.

Can you resist a power struggle?

I became aware that there are some educators who can’t resist a power struggle which results in the student being sent to the office. I want to send both the teacher and the student to the office when ultimately the teacher is the cause, not the student. From my observations over nine years, men are more often to cause power struggles with students than women, and the group of employees who demonstrate this most often are campus supervisors.

Answer: Dodging the Power Struggle Trap

In 2016 I developed what became one of our most popular workshops, Dodging the Power Struggle Trap. I created versions of this workshop for yard supervisors, campus supervisors, elementary educators, secondary educators, and even one for parents that hasn’t done given yet. For those educators who identify themselves as ones who create power struggles and want to change, this is very doable by applying the workshop’s content.

Authors Sikorski and Vittone explain how educators get into power struggles. “We’ve all found ourselves there before—involved in a tug of war, pulling hard on a metaphoric rope in an effort to gain or retain power. Whether in a professional, public, or personal realm, we may find ourselves regretting the thought process that convinced us to take up the struggle.”1

Staying Out of Power Struggles

How can you keep yourself from responding to power struggle traps?

There are numerous ways to de-escalate power struggles, but by far the best technique is not to allow yourself to get engaged in a power struggle with a student. Don’t pick up the rope. It’s that simple.

If you’re asked to be on one of two teams in a tug-of-war and your team refuses to play, no tug-of-war results. The same is true for power struggles. Simply refuse to pick up the rope and don’t play the game.

 

Sources

  1. Sikorski, Pam and Terry Vittone. How to Avoid Power Struggles.

April 18, 2016. https://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/April-2016/How-to-Avoid-Power-Struggles

  1. Image: metaphor-tug-rope-competition [Pxfuel.com]

 

Why I’m Adding Restorative Circles to Restorative Practices Workshops

My last blog post, Why Didn’t I Include Restorative Circles in Every Workshop? left me feeling disappointed in myself for not realizing the criticalness of this years ago.

For the three workshops on my schedule, I revised the workshops and added a circle component. I’m going to briefly explain the changes I made in each workshop and the impact on the participants and me as a trainer.

The First Workshop

The first workshop was the Power of Affective Statements. Although the workshop included partner activities, small group discussion, and self-reflection, it didn’t have a circles component.

After I got the small group into a standing circle, I introduced the concept.

“Today we’re going to do what’s called a check-in circle. Since we’re dealing with the topic of emotions today, I’m going to ask each of you to answer this prompt. What color describes how you feel today?”

With a reminder that they can pass the talking piece to the next person without answering the prompt, one-by-one participants state their color feeling. On my turn I share, “Mine is orange.” Various colors are mentioned nonchalantly until one participant says, “Black.” A collective hush comes over the group. The next participant holds onto the talking piece unsure if she should add her color or not. After a brief pause, the circle continues until everyone has shared.

As the circle keeper, I’m concerned about such a dark answer. I wonder, what happened today? What’s going on? What’s behind the answer? How can I support this person?

Quietly talking with my colleague later, I gain insight into a few brief details and offer some encouragement. I wonder, what if I hadn’t used a check-in circle today? I would have been the one in the dark.

Second Workshop

Restorative Apologies: Beyond Just Sayin’ Sorry is the next workshop. This time I created several community building circle prompts instead of using the existing discussion questions. The first four prompts go well until the last one. “Forgiveness means …” A few participants articulate an answer, but the majority simply say, “Pass,” in a hushed voice.

Based on their responses, I decided I’d include some personal examples of forgiveness to potentially open the discussion. This fosters some personal responses around the struggles with forgiving ourselves and others. Several participants honestly share about their struggles with forgiveness.

Third Workshop

More Affective Guidance Techniques with mostly the same participants as the two previous workshops. I notice that two participants drag themselves into the classroom. Before the workshop officially begins, I speak with them individually.

After the past two workshops the group knows the routine. Today’s prompts seem fairly “safe,” so I’m not too concerned about the responses. I say,

“Today we’re doing what is called Fist-to-Five. Using your hand, you will show how your day has gone. For example, a five might be an excellent day where a fist might be a horrible day.”

I hold up three fingers and say, “I’m a three today,” The young man next to me proudly proclaims, “I gotta say, I’m a five.” But as answers are shared, the numbers are low. I notice one zero, two ones, and two twos. There’s more going on here than meets the eye. When the talking piece returns to me I say, “It sounds like some of us are struggling today. Let’s take a few deep breaths together before we continue.”

The workshop is officially over but the participants want to continue the “discussion.” After stating that they are free to leave, but I’m willing to stay if they want to continue, they stay another seven or eight minutes. I listen to their concerns and assure them I’ll share them with their administrator.

Nothing was resolved that day, but participants had a chance to voice their frustrations and problem-solve ideas while I was able to listen to their concerns and facilitate further discussion.

New Resolve

After every training session, I reflect on how it went. How were participants engaged? What parts didn’t they understand? What changes can I make to improve the workshop? What should I delete? The good news is that with four trainers presenting workshops over multiple years, improvements are made regularly, often based on observations and interactions with participants.

After adding circle prompts to these three workshops, I feel hopeful. I witnessed the impact the circle prompts had on the participants and me. As a trainer, I typically begin training after welcoming and chit-chatting with early arriving participants. But that didn’t give me insight into their lives like using circles prompts did. When using the circles, I felt empowered to actively engage in participants’ lives beyond simply the content.

Agenda Item

After that three workshops that I specifically added a circle component to were completed, I asked for an agenda item at our regular Restorative Practices collaboration meeting. Agenda Item: Adding check-in circle prompts to workshops and why.

Why? Because there’s power in circles to connect with others and build relationships. The trainers can not only talk about life-changing circles but practice them with others. Relationships truly build the foundation for restorative practices.

 

Image source: All of these Emotions of Mine – Chiaroscuro Self-Portrait [Flickr.com]