This is a brief description of how a talking stick can be used to help students resolve conflict and share ideas. Students who don't want to speak are allowed to simply pass the stick to the next student in the circle. I think you could use it with children who experience conflict and have trouble allowing the other party to speak. If they learn to keep quiet while someone else is speaking, they learn that the ideas and thoughts of others are to be respected, even if they don't agree with those
This article explains how restorative justice circles actually work in the classroom. At Glenview Elementary school, teachers use check-in-circles, peacemaking circles, and academic intervention circles in the classrooms. Sample activities, such as a "You're in My Boat" game, attempt to help students relate to each other by emphasizing the things they share in common. These ideas could easily be adapted for older children.
On the home page for this organization, many dates are listed for their Basic Restorative Practices conferences around the country. It's important to remember that every expert on this practice says that training is absolutely necessary for the entire school, and that the practice will always fail without adequate training.
A few years ago, West Philadelphia High School was one of the most dangerous schools in the city. Since using restorative justice ideals and practices, student suspensions and discipline problems have dropped significantly. Students explain how the "talking circle" has helped them solve problems before things turn violent.
Kathy Evans, who teaches in the Education department at Eastern Mennonite University, voices her concern that restorative justice is being oversimplified and misunderstood in schools around the country. She gives specific examples of consequences that are better than suspension, but not truly restorative at all. She believes teachers and administrators are missing the fact that restorative justice is an ethos, not merely a practice.
This article outlines how to start restorative justice at your school. The most crucial step, in my opinion, is step two: Engage the School Community. Even if you implement this method in your classroom, you will face opposition and confusion from administrators and other teachers who do not understand. You definitely need "buy-in."
This is a fantastic lecture by a Chicago teacher who became frustrated after discovering that the tried and true "discipline" methods weren't working with her students. Interestingly, she believes that Zero Tolerance policies had taught her students that, if they weren't punished for a behavior, that behavior was "okay." This is definitely worth watching.
Christopher Martin teaches sixth-grade science in Denver, in a school that has adopted restorative justice practices for the last five years. This article features Martin explaining his classroom practices and opinion that punitive discipline did not work at his school. This article is simply a brief introduction to restorative justice and a glimpse into one teacher's classroom.