Saturday, March 30, 2019

SOL19 Slice #30 Going far

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOL19)
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for the month of March 2019.

A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

"If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far,
go together."
African Proverb

Yesterday I attended a workshop that provided an overview of restorative practice in schools - what these might look like, what they include, and why they are important. This morning, as I reflect on what I heard, and muse about how to share my experience with my colleagues, I am thinking about how truly complicated schools are. There are so many voices that should and must be included, and each of these voices is on their own developmental trajectory regarding progressive practices like restorative justice. Where to begin? Is it not unlike nailing down jello? 

We have students from age three to fourteen - preschool through eighth grade. We have families from diverse backgrounds, from all different wards of the city. We have middle class, poor, wealthy, black, white, brown, immigrant, special needs, homeless, LGBTQ, on and on and on and on. Each of these students has a family and these are so varied, too: children raised by single parents, two parents same sex, grandparents, foster families, mixed-race parents, older parents, young parents.... Every family has its own unique culture, their own beliefs about how their children should behave, how they should treat and interact with adults, and what discipline looks like.

We all come together in one school.

We have a diverse teaching staff, and each of us brings our own preset beliefs on how students should behave and be disciplined, on what learning should look like. Some of us are open to new ideas, some of us are so overwhelmed and busy that we resist new approaches and withdraw to the same old, same old, predictable world of our classroom, doing the things we know how to do already. Of course, teachers and administrators all have different levels of experience, too, which can lead to differences in the way a student's behavior is even perceived.

We all come together in one school.

Each of these individuals - students and adults - is on their own time-line at school - some spending only a year or a matter of months, some staying for many years. How to form a restorative community in the midst of all these moving parts?

We all come together in one school.

Let's think, too, about how we interact with one another as colleagues - are we restorative with one another? Are we open-minded and trying to listen to other perspectives, or do we avoid certain colleagues, because the divide, the differences between us, are simply too vast?

How can we adults, ill-equipped and human as we are, lead restorative practices? How does that even work?

We all come together in one school.

The reality is - there can be no other kind of community if you expect to have a successful learning experience with such diverse people. I can imagine no other way. Restorative practices provide a forum to hear from everyone, to hear the diverse voices. We have to teach children and adults about the responsibility each of us has to listen, actively listen, to one another. This is going to be a journey, a long process, one which everyone needs to be committed to learning and doing, despite preset beliefs.

We all deserve respect.
We all deserve restorative practices.
We all come together in one school.

1 comment:

  1. This: "We have to teach children and adults about the responsibility each of us has to listen, actively listen, to one another." This is exactly the heart of it. Your framing of the difficulties juxtaposed with the repeated truth "We all come together in one school" really shows why restorative practice is so important. Thank you for these thoughts.