Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 19

Why Every Student and Adult Benefits from a Regular Circle Practice By Kay Pranis Author and Trainer S chools are places of great stress—with very few exceptions. Students are under stress to perform academically, to regulate themselves so they do not get in trouble, to fit in with their peers, to cope with the challenges of their lives outside of school. Educators are under stress to produce test results, to manage student behavior, to redress the inequi- ties of the larger society, to fit in with their peers. Both educators and students are under the public microscope, analyzed, judged, and often found deficient. Most students and educa- tors spend five days a week in this pressure cooker environment. Under persistent stress we cannot access the higher parts of our brain to bring our best thinking and creativity to our endeavors. This is true for both students and educators. In this environment humans become rigid, reactive, and unregulated in their responses to what is happening. The stress pattern is self-reinforcing. As the stress grows, performance declines and produces more stress, which further limits capacity. This cycle has devastating conse- quences for students and educators, creating a cycle of escalating triggering and reactivity between adults and students. This stress can be present in all kinds of schools, not just the schools that are struggling with poor test results or chronic behavior challenges. We need to be intentional in breaking this cycle. Circle practice and mindfulness practice hold enormous promise for changing this environment of persistent stress. I am most familiar Continues on page 18 CSEE Connections Winter 2019 Page 17