Restorative Practices Update: Fall 2016
During Fall 2016, six pilot schools -- American Indian Magnet School, Farnsworth Aerospace Upper, Johnson Senior High School, Maxfield Elementary School, Murray Middle School and Riverview Westside School of Excellence -- launched school-designed, community-driven implementation of restorative practices supported by, and in collaboration with, Saint Paul Public Schools and the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers.
The emerging narratives within each site reveal work to transform culture, belief and practices with the hope of ultimately crafting school climates that are rich in belonging, wellness and safety. The stories of parents, educators and students reveal a process of learning, the discovery of empowered voice and inclusion.
From one middle school teacher:
I've used Restorative Practices in foundations for the express purpose of community building. I've also used Restorative Practice circles in science in order to facilitate verbal discussion of complex topics. We will utilize the circle format to conduct our first science-themed Socratic seminar. The question will be "Which type of force do you believe most positively affects humans?"
From a middle school Restorative Practice leader:
Our Out of Classroom Referrals are down by more than 11 percent over this same time period last year. The designated behavior "Defiance" (the most relationship based of the problem behaviors) is down by 36 percent over the same time period last year.
Our parents took part in a community building circle at the annual open house and Title I meeting. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive -- they love the fact that their kids get to start their day think and sharing about important concepts.
From elementary students:
" I like being able to take turns when I talk with friends." - (She's referring to a talking stick)-- 2nd grade student
" I like that we can talk about problems and not just get blamed."-- 5th grade student
"If we didn't have the circle meetings, I would not have found out what really happened at recess. I thought my friend was just being mean."-- 5th grade student
From elementary school teachers:
" I love that my students know that all of their voices will be heard in circles, everyone will be heard"-- first grade teacher
From elementary parents:
" When I was in school, there was not the opportunity for us to talk to teachers and tell them how we feel. This (circle Meetings) seems like a great way to build trust between teachers and students"
" I want to learn about this (Restorative Practice strategies) so that I can help my child and also to use it at home."