Posted by: bwoof | October 7, 2009

Circle time

A while back we received three days of Restorative Justice training. While it might sound sort of wishy-washy, I hereby invite anyone who’s reading to actually take time to try and learn about it with an open mind.

Here is a brief overview of RJ:

rj

Source: http://www.transformingconflict.org/Restorative_Approaches_and_Practices.htm

Today we needed that RJ option for sure. A bunch of wonky circumstances led to us needing to work with 9 reluctant teen learners who clearly were not choosing attendance and punctuality as their best strategies for success.

It was a prime opportunity for penalties, lectures, scolding, calls home, perhaps even academic discipline. Thankfully we were too tired to make it a big deal, but we were also too weary of the same-old-but-ineffective strategies.

Instead, we convened an RJ circle, ironically in the new room called The Student Success Room. What we discovered was more than powerful! Really powerful.

We learned:

  • kids want to be respected, not yelled at
  • they don’t understand some rules which have historic significance to previous generations but not their own (i.e., the no hat rule)
  • they want to learn independently and just get the job done
  • they like teachers who respectfully give them some personal space on an as-needed basis
  • many smokers want to quit but don’t quite know how, especially if it’s attached to a social group or social activities
  • our five minute afternoon break is too short for them
  • they don’t trust technology. Admittedly, I’m surprised by this: “Paper and pencil is the only thing that you can count on.”

After all was said and done we unanamously agreed that learning had happened. We’ll mark the attendance ‘present’ and hope that the learning continues tomorrow.

My only regret is that we don’t have a video of what the teens shared and how they shared it. It was, perhaps, the most powerful event of this school year to date and I wish I could replay what happened.

Grateful for:

  • people paid attention and the supply list will be fixed
  • the french computer is now hooked up
  • lots of positive feedback re yesterday
  • a girl showing real signs of developing patience, anger management, and clear thinking

Curious about:

  • will the kids from the circle come tomorrow…on time?
  • how will I have some important and time-sensitive learning conversations?
  • what’s the difference between PLCs, PLTs (Principal Learning Teams), and PLNs? Personally, I tip to the personal learning network, hands down!
  • ArcGIS Explorer...a cool web-based tool that somewhat mimics ArcView. I participated in an online webinar at Classroom 2.0 tonight.
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