So just before break, Suzy and I had a chance to talk with Lizzy McDonald, a graduate Social Work Intern from the University of Vermont focusing on restorative justice.
She’s been trying to get our school on board. But few are jumping in whole-heartedly. In case you don’t know what it is, let’s get a few links out of the way first…
- Edutopia Resources for Schools
- NYT article about Restorative Justice in Oakland, Calif., the place people in the know point to when they talk about this stuff
- PBS Newshour video series on Restorative Justice in Colorado
Anyway, Lizzy is a little disappointed; she’s put in a ton of work, and it’s basically led nowhere. We are not a restorative justice school.
So Suzy is game for anything. And she’s been using this in her science classes to get students to develop a deeper community and trust to be able to talk.
We can’t really do this well in Excell, mostly because students’ language levels are so low that we can’t talk deeply about things that bother them.
But we did do something really cool that plays into our mindfulness work, too. We used a talking item. You can only talk if you hold the thing. And for students negotiating meaning, this is harder than it seems, particularly when you have others in the room who speak your first language. They want to interpret for each other, to help each other, to support each other. But to respect the community, we need to be able to be quiet and listen and let others do for themselves.
So we’re working on it.
It’s a first step. And it’s awesome.