August 29, 2018

Restorative Practices and TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

Blog Archives:

One of the most prevalent issues that need to be discussed and sorted out in society is the idea of how one takes responsibility.  In education, we wish to have classrooms where students are engaged and participating as well as taking ownership of their own learning.  In communities, we want people to contribute, care and be responsible.  The challenge is how to create the right conditions for each person or stakeholder to understand what their responsibilities are and how to achieve the goals and hopes and dreams that they believe are important.

So often, people give away their “agency” and expect others to make the best decisions for them or expect others to tell them what to do.  The problem with this approach is that the individual doesn’t have to take responsibility for their actions or their next steps. 

Restorative practices helps each of us by giving us a script or protocol to follow that helps others take responsibility and name how they believe things can be made right.  

One of the first activities that we had our Belizean colleagues engage in was a scenario where one person was the teacher and the other was a student in trouble.  [How often as teachers & parents (and I am VERY guilty of this) don’t we seize on the problems of others and then try to solve the problem FOR them?  ]

The “teacher” in the scenario was only allowed to ask…..

                “What happened?”

                “What did you think when it happened?”

                “Who has been affected by what has happened?”

                “What’s been the hardest thing for you?”

                “What do you think needs to happen to make things right?”

The feedback that we got was from everyone was how different this conversation was with the ”troubled student” because the student did all the talking and got to tell their story AND have agency on how best to resolve it.  The “teacher” listened and just guided the conversation and helped the student discover what might need to happen next.  The student was given responsibility.  The teacher doesn’t have to always take responsibility to “solve” the student’s problem.  It is a respectful, honouring process that builds people up and sends the message that they CAN bring peace and that they have wisdom to know what they might need to resolve things.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”     Colossians 3:15-17

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