Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 15

J U S TI C E I S N’ T BL I N D What would happen if we collaborated with our diversity directors to help adults consider cultural differences? How might we grow as a community and reflect on how our own identities influence perspective? How might we collaborate across roles to address faculty and student needs? In sum, could we explicitly teach/learn how to make amends and repair harm in ways that were inclusive, addressed diverse perspectives, and were developmentally appropriate for students in a K-8 grade school? “What would happen if we collaborated with our diversity directors to help adults consider cultural differences? How might we grow as a community and reflect on how our own identi- ties influence perspective? How might we collaborate across roles to address faculty and student needs?” Conflict is inevitable, combat is optional. –Max Lucado Over the course of four years, our team has guided discussions with faculty, circles with students, and conversations with families. One assumption we continue to test is: If our community (and world) becomes more diverse, we may have more conflicts as vary- ing ideas, perspectives, and experiences converge. Rather than avoid conflicts, per- haps conflicts can be teachable moments for students. Every student has an oppor- tunity to reflect and tell “what happened” as a means of articulating their perspective while learning the perspective of others. students, perhaps there is something we can do about it. Instead of blaming stu- dents, perhaps our own biases may influ- ence patterns of behavior and responses to student conduct? If so, what could we do to support students better so that they could achieve their educational goals? Af- ter an exercise led by our diversity team, one teacher acknowledged, “I didn’t realize how much this student upset me. Each time he doesn’t follow my directions... It reminds me of my first year teaching and I had a hard time working with boys.” Having this insight from a teacher created an oppor- tunity for us to support both her and our students. It also provided an opportunity for our broader faculty to engage in new ways of empathy-building and validated During our faculty meeting times, we have incorporated research and identity work into our conversations, shifting from focusing on negative student behaviors to delving into our own identities. 2 If social biases can in- fluence our interactions with and towards 2. NAIS has provided a sample of cultural identifiers that can help school communities consider the diversity of their stakeholders. Visit https://www.nais.org/articles/pages/sample-cultural-identifiers.aspx. We couple this with Dr. Steven Jones’s warm-up activity “who are you” to help acknowledge the multiple identities/cultures we may participate in. Continues on page 14 CSEE Connections Winter 2019 Page 13