Foundational Introductory Workshop Trainings
Fostering healthy relationships and a sense of belonging within the school community is critical to student success both academically and socially. As the research evidence has mounted, various programs have been developed in response, including:
- Safe and Welcoming Schools,
- Schools that Learn,
- SEL Schools (CASEL),
- Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS),
- Center for the Collaborative Classroom (Caring School Community).
Something else has been sweeping through school districts across the nation in response to rising numbers of suspensions and expulsions even in children as young as kindergarten. Growing awareness of the School to Prison Pipeline under the failed zero tolerance policies have had schools scrambling for answers. What has emerged is something called Restorative Justice (RJ) under the umbrella of Restorative Practices (RP), also referred to as Restorative Justice in Education.
Restorative Practice is not a curriculum or a methodology. It is first of all a philosophy, one grounded in our universally shared values and in ancient teachings validated by modern quantum science regarding the interconnectedness of all things. As a values-based philosophy, Restorative Practices encourage us to show up and interact with the world in a good way. Understanding and implementing Restorative Justice in Education is a powerful way of developing healthy school communities.
Intermediate Workshop Trainings
One of the universal values that all humans share is the need to be respected. Conflict, and the ways we frequently violate the dignity of another often shows up first in how we speak to one another. Our words have power, and language alone can determine whether conflict will be destructive or transformational.
Authentic Restorative Circles bring people together in a way that is inclusive and creates trust and respect. In a Restorative Circle participants have an equal voice and agree to speak and listen respectfully, honoring the dignity of every person. Circles are being used all over the world in schools, the workplace, the criminal justice system and communities to build relationships and a sense of belonging, to resolve problems, make decisions, and to transform conflict by healing harm and repairing relationships.
CRC offers intermediate level training workshops in Restorative Language and in Circle Training.
Advanced Workshop Trainings
Too often schools adopt Restorative Justice or Restorative Practices as a hoped for solution to serious discipline issues in the school. It gets written into the discipline policy, replacing former punitive models of expulsion, suspension and detention. Unfortunately, due to a lack of either a thorough understanding of Restorative Justice in Education or the subsequent shift in thinking and culture that must accompany it, these attempts too often fail to achieve the hoped for results, and sadly leave a lot of the staff with a negative idea about what “Restorative Justice” and “Circles” are really about.
Using Restorative Circles (or Conferencing) to repair serious harm is important work that requires advanced training and experience and making use of mentors and coaches as one develops their skills in facilitating these processes. We cannot fully repair or heal harm if we attempt to only address the (mis)behavior and not address the context for that behavior. As one 16 year-old said, “…once I was able to understand the roots of my behavior, I was able to change.”
After a two to four-day training, participants often need follow-up support and the opportunity to re-visit the information that they learned. This enables them to more confidently implement these practices with fidelity. This certainly is true regarding Circle facilitation for serious harm. But it is also true for just about anything we’ve learned that requires personal reflection and change.
In 2006, Mary Skillings developed a pilot PD course in collaboration with University of Minnesota Duluth titled Positive Behavior Management: Teaching From a Restorative Paradigm.
Knowing that change does not happen for people overnight because they attended an inspirational workshop or read a book full of great ideas, Mary felt that educators who were serious about wanting to shift the direction of public education needed to receive information in small doses instead of one big gulp in a 3 – 5 day workshop. They needed time to digest what they learned and to begin to implement changes – changes in their thinking and their approach in the classroom, in addition to time to get comfortable with new techniques such as using Circles in their classrooms.
The class was small, but successful. Mary and the University continued their collaboration until 2009.
Mary continues to believe that for real change to happen, people need a lot of ongoing support, and smaller doses of information to digest and to begin implementing. Based on the success of the program from the early 2000’s, Mary has updated the course and now offers it to schools who would like to enroll a number of their staff. There are several options ranging from 3 hour sessions to full 8 hour days. The course runs the entire school year, meeting one or more times a month, with reading, some writing and practical applications to be done between class sessions. CEU’s are awarded at the end of the course.