Restorative Circles: Creating a Safe Environment for Students to Reflect

– First I’m gonna read a quote. To succeed, you must first improve. To improve, you must first practice. Young people have to be given space to grow and to feel
like, okay, I made a mistake but from this learning
experience I can continue to become better. To learn, you must first fail. – When you’re talking
about student discipline a lot of times we are
punitive because it’s faster and restorative takes more time. But restorative practices
are better long term. So at Pearl Cohn, we have
a place called the Zone which we use in lieu of suspension. – Welcome to the Zone. – [Sonia] It’s a collaborative space where kids get into a
circle and they discuss what their behaviors were
and ways to correct it. – [Woman] We have the Zone every morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.. – [Student] They put you
back in the same situation. And then they expect (mumbles). – Today, we had eight
students in the Zone. We’re here today to talk
about how to make things right when we make mistakes, poor choices, uh Usually the infractions
are cell phone use, disrespect, cursing, but it could also be that there was an argument in a classroom or more aggressive behaviors
that also get sent to us. So even though you had a
conflict that brought you here, if we can bring our best
selves to the circle we can get a lot done, we
can learn from each other When students come in we
go over circle guidelines so that there are agreements that we hold within this space. What does it mean to
listen from the heart? – You’re tryin’ to feel
like you’re relatin’ to the situation. – Just like, show respect to them. I talked to (mumbles) about the situation, about my phone situation. – Once we teach them,
really what the Zone is and how this is not a space
where there’s a power dynamic between you and another
person, then they kinda disarm and get to what’s causing that behavior. – I had somebody come to me
and tell me that a friend said something bad about me… Most the time when you’re in
trouble you get a referral and you have a consequence. They don’t really wanna
hear your side of the story. – Well what happened? – When you come into Zone
they have a conversation with you and they kinda tell
you how to solve your problem. The positive way. I was able to go to her
and like, work it out. – We’re really just trying to get context. Whenever there’s a conflict
right, both parties contribute to the conflict. Although you might not
feel like you contributed to the problem, you played a piece in it, and that’s a part of the
social-emotional learning that we’re trying to get them to see. We really want to have a
discussion about the things you can control. – I just need to catch myself
and know my surroundings… – It is a place for students
to process their role in it, understanding who was harmed,
but then also understanding that it’s okay to reflect on
what you as a student needed in that situation. – I don’t need anything
from others to make it right cause I can be mature on my own. – But how can we help you
in the maturing process? Cause we gonna be here too. What I usually say is
I don’t want to change you’re behavior, I want
you to think about it before you do it. Really I’ve seen them
becoming very intentional about what they do, what they say. – Everybody has to own
up to their consequences – [Jamel] And that’s the
whole purpose of the Zone. – And me ownin’ it, that’s
gonna help me better.

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