Day 2 – #teach180

No picture, but wanted to share #onegoodthing from today:

I didn’t get off to a good start with a student in one of my classes yesterday, who came in not quite in “school mode.” I had been thinking about what to do to build some trust there. Today, we did another restorative justice circle, this time to kick off a discussion on respect and appreciation. The prompt was to share a time you have felt respected or appreciated. We then did a structured talk to find commonalities and try to write up some class norms. (Trust me, this sounds more impressive than it was. There were a lot of walls up still and it fell kind of flat.) Anyway, with some coaxing, this student eventually decided to share how they felt disrespected by me (for constant correction and close proximity while they tried to talk over everything we were doing and not participate) probably to try to start an argument. There was some discomfort in the room as other students started to make some commotion about how this student was going to get in trouble.  I sat and listened intently and when the student was done, I explained the use of “I” statements to the class and encouraged the student to move from “you disrespected me when” to “I felt disrespected when.” And as they finished articulating their “I” statement, something amazing happened. It was like a golden glow in the classroom as I calmly & earnestly thanked the student for sharing. The rest of the circle, which had been vocally against being in a circle again, was silent and seemed to be waiting for someone else to share. We waited for a few minutes in the glow and when no one else wanted to share, I ended the circle time and we went back to our seats to discuss, and with that, the magic was over. Everything returned to normal, but in those few moments in a tough class, when the teacher didn’t respond as expected, something happened, and it was altogether surprising.


I should say here, I’ve never done the circles part of restorative justice before and am just shooting in the dark, more or less, trying new things; so sending everyone back to do a structured talk about it, or when I broke the “just listen” rules (?) by a quick invitation to talk about my methods at a later time because the time seemed sooo ripe, are probably not the best example, but it’s real and so hopefully helpful.

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