Following are suggestions for daily, weekly and monthly restorative practices that a school building or youth program could consider implementing as a means of creating a positive school climate that builds relationships and the skills of empathy. These suggestions come from Cordelia Anderson, The International Institute on Restorative Practices, Circle in the Square and The Mind Up Curriculum.
All-school 20-minute circles:
Circle on Monday morning, check-in.
Circle on Friday, check-out.
Circle on Wednesday, after lunch, check-up or student-led, student topics.
Once a week send around the talking piece (TP) to share or teach or check-in.
Once a class period, ask an empathy question.
Once a class period, use an 'I' statement.
Once a month conduct SEAD: Stop Everything and Dialogue. See SEAD and Circle Tools.
By the middle of September, all students will have:
Learned the Circle process: TP, center piece, and going in order.
Opening, closing, topics.
Shared their values in the classroom.
Developed their classroom common agreement.
Students and staff will have voted on 5-10 school-wide values:
Each classroom puts their values on poster paper.
Values are posted in the lunch room on Value Day or listed online or on paper.
Every student and staff votes on three-five values using three-five dots; voting is done during the lunch period or online or some other method of including everyone.
A Wordle is made of all value words; the top three-five become the school-wide values and posters are made for them through SEAD. See SEAD and Circle Tools.
The same process is done for school-wide common agreements.
School student support staff and administrators teach to each social studies class about the restorative questions and making amends.
Restorative questions are posted around the school:
Administrators, when addressing harm, will:
Assess the readiness of all parties in using a restorative response.
Use the restorative questions in face-to-face meetings, if appropriate.
Involve teachers in face-to-face meetings.
Provide teachers with appropriate information on the agreements.
Keep track of data: office referrals (as a means of assessing implementation and support to
teachers for circle practice), restorative meetings, agreements kept, and evaluation of process.
The faculty and staff will:
Use the TP at least once in staff meetings.
Include the Restorative Practices report as an agenda item in staff meetings.
Identify and provide coaches as needed.
Use the Circle process in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
Use the Circle as needed in team meetings.
Thinking and breathing for adults:
Count backwards from five before speaking.
Take five: count backwards from five and think of one thing you appreciate about the student before speaking.
Breathe in four counts, hold 10 counts, and exhale eight counts before speaking.
Ask the question to yourself, “What might have happened to this student that he or she acts this way?” before intervening.
Affirm to yourself, “This behavior is not about me,” before speaking.
Start with an affirmation.
Start with a positive.
Start with an 'I' statement.
Start with “I want to help everyone to be safe here. I want you to feel safe."
Start with “I want to talk to you but first I need to see how you and I are feeling.”
Start with "Let us breathe first and then talk."
Other responses to irritating behaviors:
“I am feeling restlessness in the class. I think we need a brain break! Let's do a little stretching.” See Energizing Brain Breaks.
“I am having a hard time concentrating. I need a break. Let's stop and breathe--standing on one leg!” See Yoga Calm.
“We need to listen more closely to each other. Circle up and let's make rain.”
“We need a break. Joke time!” (Use a book of jokes or approve the joke at the beginning of the day.)
“I see that.....I am concerned that......I am wondering if....I will check back with you later to see how things are going.”
Restorative questions: “What happened, what were you thinking, what were you feeling, what you have thought since, etc.”
“I feel distracted from the lesson right now. I need to check in with you all about our classroom values. I will send the TP around. What value do you need to remember to help you focus on the lesson? I will start. I need to focus on.....”
Or, “What common agreement do you think is important right now to continue learning?”
Or, “Let's check in. If you were a kind of weather, what would you be? (or) If you were an animal what would you be? What is one thing you can do now to help each other focus on the lesson at hand? Let’s make a list. What is one thing from this list that you can commit to doing for the rest of the day? Is there anything else anyone wants to say?”
“I am unable to take the time to sort this out with you right now. I want everyone to be safe, so we can all learn. I want you to go to the office to get some help. I will check back with Mr. Philips and with you to see if we can find a time to talk about what just happened and repair the harm.”
For more information, contact Nancy Riestenberg, School Climate Specialist, 651-582-8433.