For my group’s learning experience we were tasked with the readings from pages 165-188 in The New Teacher Book. Within this section of the book, it covered multiple topics that are extremely important. These topics include activism, relationships, school policies, and restorative justice. The first section on “How do I Stay in a Profession that is Trying to Push Me Out” talked about the teacher’s development from how he felt that no one could relate to his experience to him collaborating and building relationships with other teachers leading to him finding a larger purpose in what he does and bettering society. The “Dear White Teacher” section discussed racial issues in a classroom. In particular, the way white teachers fear disciplining students of color. Passing off disciplinary duties to another adult in the building just because a teacher might think they can relate to them better is not always the best option and can often backfire, making matters worse. Restorative justice was another major topic in this section of the book and one that our learning circle group chose to emphasize. The one section of the book talked about how the teacher pushed restorative justice to the side at first because her students were well behaved, but later on in the school year the students started getting in trouble and she knew just disciplining them would not be enough. The story eventually developed into the students understanding how important and helpful restorative justice practices are and were able to talk about the hard issues in a restorative justice circle.
For the design of the learning experience, my learning circle created a powerpoint to share with the class. We all took one section from the book as our focus point and shared our learning and thoughts with the class. We were able to engage the class by handing out note cards and asking questions relative to the topics being discussed. We collected what the students had written on the note cards and shared some of the answers with the class. We found this as a good method to engage the class because they were able to think about the questions we asked and share their thoughts and ideas which contributed to the overall learning of the class.
I was tasked with the Question/Answer section from the book which focused on restorative practices. The section discussed how teachers can fall prey to using a punitive approach when disciplining students. It discussed how restorative justice practices, like restorative justice circles, are a much more effective practice than a suspension or expulsion. The book stated “Restorative practices in schools are a non-prescriptive set of tools for building and maintaining healthy communities through the intentional creation of trusting relationships.” An example in the book was in some high schools, a teacher leading a class on restorative justice in which students were trained to lead the circles and resolve conflicts between offenders and victims. Discipling students by giving them detention or a suspension is never enough and actually takes away from their learning. Rather, the students need to talk about and understand the mistake they made so they can learn from it and grow as an individual.
A reference I consulted for the learning experience was Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon. The school recognized the faults and inequities of the standard disciplinary system amongst schools and implemented restorative justice as a means of addressing student infractions. David Shephard, the dean of student management at the school, now leads a restorative justice circle to handle major and minor issues that come up at the school. In the circle, all affected parties, including parents of the students, meet and discuss what happened. They then come up with a way to repair the harm. Much similar to as the book taught, this way of handling issues, helps support students and encourages growth and change.
Below is a link to my learning circles PowerPoint: